Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nearly-Wordless Wednesday

All the Colors of Fall

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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Gate of Heaven

Available for Kindle & Nook

“You looked just like a nun sitting there,” she said, walking up behind me.
It surprised me, but only a little, to find myself pleased to be mistaken for a nun. And I might very well have looked like one, since Paul’s black jacket was long on me and my dark hair flowed out like a veil from under the white band encasing my ears. 
I had come to the woods to be alone, to escape the endless questions, but that obviously wasn’t going to happen. What was going to happen I, perhaps, should have been able to predict in minute detail. But, then again, she walked up and began talking to me before I learned I had the ability to do such things. I stopped my finger-folding exercise and peered over my shoulder."

The above passage is the beginning of my short story, "The Gate of Heaven," published two years ago by Paycock Press in the anthology "Gravity Dancers," and recently republished electronically for both Kindle and Nook e-readers. When I wrote the first draft of this story five years ago, I had no idea that the "finger-folding exercise" that my main character repeatedly carries out in the story is actually an example of finger yoga.

Although, it's not really called "finger yoga," but, rather, a sequence of mudras, or finger positions, believed to activate certain energetic pathways in the body. Practicing this mudra sequence is a form of yoga, though, and it can have powerful effects. 

As the character in my story was about to find out.

I, like the character in the story, learned the sequence from my doctor, who taught me to do it after I suffered a serious hand injury. I doubt very much if he knew about the role of this practice in yoga, but when I learned about this mudra sequence a few months ago, I was astounded. It had worked exactly as the tradition says it would work, even though I didn't know anything about that at the time.

The exercise, or mudra sequence, is also called a kriya, which is a sanskrit word that simply means "set of actions," or "sequence of movements." This particular kriya has actually caught the attention of the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation, which advocates its use for the prevention of Alzheimer's. Apparently, studies show that practicing this mudra sequence in conjunction with chanting can increase activity in the area of the brain associated with memory.

I really don't know if the results provided by this foundation for Alzheimer's research are valid, and further study is definitely warranted. But one thing I do know: these finger-folding exercises are deceptively simple, and extraordinarily powerful.

As you will find out if you read The Gate of Heaven. Check it out!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Lazy Days of Summer? Not!

It's hard to believe, but my first session of classes is drawing to a close tomorrow. After completing my certification requirements about three weeks ago, my teaching activities really took off. 

I have been teaching at least two classes a week, sometimes three or four per week, sometimes even more than once per day. Yesterday, for example, I did yoga four times. Four times! If you had told me, a year ago, that I would even be able to do that, much less want to do it, I would have said you were crazy.

A couple of weeks ago, I even got up at 4am to teach a 6am class in a nearby town. I amazed even myself (I am nowhere near a morning person) with that one. Even more incredible, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to take on more of those 6am classes in August, all for the chance to teach more yoga.

So, even though the song claims that these summer days are "lazy, hazy and crazy," they haven't been particularly lazy for me. Crazy? Yes, probably, but I'm not complaining! I'm teaching yoga and I'm loving it -- pure and simple. 


Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Made It!

The above image is probably self-explanatory, but in case you need an explanation: I've completed all my training requirements, passed the exam with flying colors, and am now officially a yoga teacher! 
I've submitted my credentials to Yoga Alliance (YA) and once my materials work their way through the YA office, I'll be listed in the YA Directory of yoga teachers at what they call the RYT-200 level, which means "Registered Yoga Teacher with 200 hours of training."
Needless to say, I am very happy. And all I have to add for now is this: WOOT!
Oh, and Namaste.  :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just About There....

I'm almost finished! I've completed my individual project, finished my required observation hours, attended all the training sessions and am working diligently on the take-home final, which I hope to turn in early next week. 

I decided that the most appropriate way to celebrate becoming a certified yoga instructor is to teach yoga! So, that's what I'm doing and am offering a short series of classes during the month of July. I've created a flier (see below!), set up my new yoga website and am already registering students.

Although this blog was set up to chronicle my journey toward becoming a certified yoga instructor, I don't seem to want to stop now that I'm nearly there. There's so much more to write about, so I intend to continue posting for awhile. Maybe for a long while!


Monday, June 20, 2011

The End is Near!

Erich Schiffman. Photo: Christie Zepeda
In the last month, our yoga teacher training group events have included two weekend intensives, each of which ran from Friday evening through Sunday evening, plus one other amazing weekend workshop with master teacher Erich Schiffmann

Our final weekend intensive included a team-taught class that our group offered to the public, a very rewarding and exciting experience. I was so proud of each of my fellow teacher trainees -- and so proud of us and what we had accomplished in these last ten months.

On top of these group activities, I gave a Kirtan demo to my fellow teacher trainees, spent an average of ten hours a week observing experienced teachers, began to write up my project, which was the organization and launch of the Kirtan circle at the Sun & Moon studio, and started to get my handouts and books in order in preparation for the written final exam.

So, needless to say (!) I have been a little busy and have not had much time for blogging. The end of this 200-hour training has arrived so quickly, it seems, and it's hard to believe that we are almost done. Once I complete the final exam, which could be as early as the first of July, I will be a certified yoga instructor, which is even harder to believe.

And now, I'm heading back to the books. I have a paper to finish writing, a few more chapters to read in the yoga sutra book, a bit of anatomy to study, some sanskrit to practice, and on and on. I am beginning to realize, if I didn't know it before (and I did!) that yoga practice and study is a lifelong process that doesn't end when one finishes the 200-hour training.

Post-Kirtan joy! Photo: Ruth Ann Lowery

Nevertheless, I will be very happy to pass through these final checkpoints and will be very grateful when my certification is completed. It has been a lot of work, but never tedious - the work was challenging, but joyful, difficult, but gratifying, sometimes bewildering, but blessedly also enlightening. Oh, and it's been a lot of fun, too!


PS: Big thanks to my fellow yogis, Ruth Ann and Christie! Both are fabulous photographers and graciously shared numerous photos, including these two, which they took during our weekend intensives.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Yoga of Gardening

I've been making a big push to get the rest of my gardening done before the "official" start of summer, which is right about now, so haven't had much time for blogging. But that doesn't mean I haven't been doing yoga! 

On Saturday when I was getting the last of my vegetables and flowers planted, I did many (many) rounds of uttanasana (forward bend, literally translated as intense stretch--which it is!) and malasana (garland pose or squat, although mine was not quite perfect form since I was often holding a spade in one hand and a plant in the other).

The next day I spent a lot of time in backbends, a perfect counter-pose for all that forward folding my garden required. And today I went out and took some photos to share with all of you. Here they are:

Small tomatoes have already appeared!
Kohlrabi I planted as seed last November.
Beets, cabbage, onions and cucumbers!

Peas growing among the roses.
The garden on the threshold of June.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jaya Jagadambe! Happy Mother's Day

Wah! leads us in a Mother's Day chant, Jaya Jagadambe Jai Jai Ma, at Omega's Spring Ecstatic Chant this past weekend. There are many names for the Divine Mother--Durge, Kali, Saraswati--but my favorite is Jagadambe, the Mother of the Universe.

Jai Ma! And Happy Mother's Day...a little belatedly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ecstatic Chant

Tomorrow, I head off for a trip to upstate New York, where I'll be attending the Spring Ecstatic Chant at the Omega Institute. As a Kirtan enthusiast, I'm very excited about this event, which features a rotating array of different chant leaders throughout the weekend. 

I attended the spring Chant last year and it was, in fact, my first actual Kirtan experience--and, as it turned out, a very powerful experience indeed. I had just completed a five-day workshop with David and Mira Newman designed to teach participants how to lead Kirtan, and the combination of the aptly-named Ecstatic Chant weekend and their excellent instruction launched me into a year in which I've now organized and started a Kirtan group at my yoga studio.

While I totally love leading Kirtan, I have to admit that it will be really nice to be just a member of the chorus for awhile. I tend to get swept away by some of the chants we have been doing, which occasionally makes my keyboard-playing, well, shall we say, "interesting"? So, I'm looking forward to being able to fully throw myself to the chant and not have to worry about whether my fingers are on the right part of the keyboard, which chant to lead next, or anything at all for awhile.

If I'm not totally in ecstasy all weekend, I will try to record a few videos to upload and share later. And, now: off to pack! 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nearly-Wordless Wednesday

Saluting the Sun
Surya Namaskar

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 April is YIOM, or Yogis Inspiring Oneness Month...and I am proud to participate!

Friday, April 8, 2011

April is YIOM

I've just learned that April has been designated as YIOM, or Yogis Inspiring Oneness Month, a project designed to encourage quality blog posts about yoga. The blog posts can be tracked on Twitter using the #YIOM hashtag.

The idea is to help elevate awareness of yoga beyond its popular image as only a fitness regimen. Yoga is, of course, a good fitness regimen, but it is so much more as Lorin, aka @TheVeganAsana on Twitter, who created the YIOM event has said.

And the project is very timely, since April is also the month I have decided to devote to practicing my newborn teaching skills. As such, yoga is very much on my mind these days. Today I hosted my first group of students at my home for a free yoga class. I decided to not charge for lessons or classes until I have more teaching experience, so had already designated April as "free yoga month." I am happy to add the YIOM definition for the month of April, and to let the project inspire me to write more blog posts!

This was actually my second yoga teaching experience, but unlike the first one where I found myself deviating strongly from my planned routine, I actually stuck to my notes this time. I had three students, all with different issues, so I found I couldn't tailor the poses for a particular issue the way I did when I was giving a private lesson.

Just as with my first student, though, I found that I absolutely, totally loved the experience of leading people through a yoga practice. I especially loved teaching the students who had little or no experience with yoga, and it was extremely gratifying to hear exclamations of "Oh! I see!" after I had brought their attention to a specific body part or position. I could literally hear the enhanced awareness of their bodies settling in, and it was a wonderful sound.

We did a full, normal yoga class, complete with Savasana and Namaste at the end, and I also loved watching them relax into Savasana, letting go of the stress and worries of the day as the thunder from an April rain shower rumbled overhead outside. I taught them that "Namaste" means "The divine in me bows to the divine in you," and as I bowed to them, I really meant it: I felt great gratitude for these divine souls who had allowed me to share my practice with them today. 

And, yes, we were sweating a bit by the end of class, and I'm sure their hips and thighs are going to feel the effects of Warrior II and side angle bend tomorrow, so they definitely got a work-out. But I also know that they received one of the most important gifts of a yoga practice: the ability and opportunity to let go, if only for a few minutes as in Savasana, and just be. 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

And So It Begins

Last week, I taught my first yoga lesson outside of the practice runs we've done in our training program. I have a number of friends who have expressed an interest in yoga and who have either stressful jobs, an athletic lifestyle that includes long-distance running and biking, or both. In other words, people who really need yoga!

I asked one of my friends who fit both categories if she would be willing to be my first guinea pig. I prepared my lesson plan and practiced it a couple of times before arriving at her house, loaded down with equipment. 

We got started and by the second pose, I had completely deviated from my notes. I didn't really plan to stray from my plans, but after asking about her physical situation, I realized she would benefit more from poses other than the ones I had planned to focus on.

So, I threw my notes aside and just went with the flow. And it was great! I very much enjoyed being able to give personal, individualized attention but I also enjoyed creating a space where she was able to learn and get what she needed that day.

I enjoyed last week's session so much that I'm planning to try it again, with other friends or even small groups. I guess I always expected there to be a sharp demarcation between being a teacher-trainee and being a teacher, but I feel like I've somehow passed over that imagined boundary and started teaching without even really planning to.

Tonight I am attending a practice teaching session with other fellow teacher trainees, some of whom have also begun trying out their new teaching skills on friends and neighbors. I'm eager to hear what their experience was like and to share my own as we walk together along the path toward becoming full-fledged yoga teachers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pray For Japan

Incense offerings at entrance to the Todai-ji Temple in Nara, Japan
A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You sweep us away like a dream.
We fade away suddenly like the grass.
So, teach us to number our days,
That we may apply our hearts to wisdom.*

*Psalm 90:3-5,12

Please give generously to the American Red Cross or the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Lenten Journey

I attended Ash Wednesday services today for the first time in two years. It has been well over eighteen months since I've had any desire to participate in a Christian worship service and the only time I've entered a church in that period has been to attend a funeral.

Considering that before I left the church a year and a half ago I was serving as the Abbess of a lay Benedictine community and had even contemplated ordination and seminary for awhile, it has been a long time to be away, and yet I don't regret my absence. My reasons for leaving the church are complicated and even though I don't think this is the place to discuss them in detail, I'm not sure I could anyway. I still don't completely understand what happened when I realized that the teachings of the church were no longer helping me understand how God was working in my life.

I'm not really sure what compelled me to attend today. I woke up, knowing that today was Ash Wednesday, and this seemed of the utmost significance. Of all the seasons of the church liturgical year, Lent is the one that has always meant the most to me. Lent is the season in which I have often felt closest to God. Lent is, in many ways, the reason I stayed in the church for as long as I did.

In my studies of the yoga tradition, although there is a great deal of attention paid to ethical principles, and the yamas and niyamas play a prominent role, "sin" is not a word you will find in the yoga sutras. I have often wondered if this is one place where the Christian path deviates from the yoga path, and I have to admit it is more pleasant to think of oneself as without sin than to contemplate the words of the psalmist, who says: "Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth, a sinner from my mother's womb."

So, it might seem a little odd that I, a person who truly believes that all of us are, deep down, good and pure and perfect, would be drawn to a penitential season like Lent. Despite this belief, I nevertheless am brought up short by phrases in the Litany of Penitence. Recited in Ash Wednesday services like the one I attended today, these phrases include such things as: 

We have not loved You with our whole heart, and mind, and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven. 

Despite my firm conviction that you and I are, each of us, at our core, perfect, I also know that because I am human, it impossible to, every moment, love God with my whole heart, mind and soul; to love my neighbors, every day, as myself; to forgive others, especially when they don't forgive me.

The Litany goes on, bringing up those things that most of us would rather not admit: 

We confess to You our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves;
We confess our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts;
Our uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors;
Our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us;
Our waste and pollution of Your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us. 

I think it is important to acknowledge the truth that all of us have had moments, in the past year, when one or more of these statements described the state of our own hearts. It is good to confess these things. It is good to admit that we are, in fact, not perfect, but to also have faith that, in the end, we will be forgiven for our failings.

Every year during the Lenten season, whether I observe it or not, big movements happen in my spiritual life. Last year during Lent I made the decision to pursue yoga teacher training and to focus on learning how to lead Kirtan chanting. Both of these, especially the Kirtan, have had a profound impact on my spiritual life. I have, for the first time, become completely open about the devotion and love for God I have always held inside my heart. Despite the fact that neither yoga nor Kirtan come from the Christian tradition, I think that last year's Lenten journey led me to exactly the right place God wanted me to be.

This year, I am curious to see what Lent will bring, but I know there is no way of predicting what awaits me. My task is simple: to keep walking, be disciplined about my practice, and to pay attention.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Chant for Protection

Last week, we began our Kirtan Circle with a chant to Ganesha that I learned from my teacher, David Newman. David, also known as Durga Das, which means "Servant to the Divine Mother," is shown in the video above leading a group in the chanting of this same mantra, "Jai Ganesha." 

Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of hinduism, embodies the quality of the divine that can remove obstacles and is an excellent choice for embarking on any new endeavor--such as launching a new Kirtan circle. In the days following the first meeting of our new Kirtan chanting group, I realized how even more appropriate this particular mantra was for the days our world was living through. The sanskrit text for this chant is:

   Jai Ganesha! Jai Ganesha! Jai Ganesha Pahiman
   Sri Ganesha! Sri Ganesha! Sri Ganesha Rakshamam
   Gung Ganapataye Namo Namah 

And the meaning, in English, is roughly: 

    Hail Ganesha, the One who saves us.
    Venerable Ganesha, the One who protects us.
    I bow in reverence to the name Ganapati, the name of Ganesha. 

In this period of great upheaval and turmoil in the world, it is good to have the opportunity to sing with others to God. It is good, and comforting, to seek safety and protection in the divine that is always with us. Although the chants in traditional Kirtan are made to Hindu deities and the religion could not be more foreign to me, I have been greatly moved by the practice of Kirtan and no longer doubt the power of this particular form of worship.

Although Kirtan does not come from the tradition I was raised in, and I still know very little about it, I have found that the practice speaks directly to my heart, bypassing my brain and making it unnecesary to fully understand the stories or theology behind the songs. God has many faces and many names and, in the final analysis, my own beliefs are only a vague approximation of the true ultimate reality that is beyond any human comprehension. Keeping this in mind has been a great help as I have found myself swept away by this powerful devotional practice from a tradition not my own.

Tonight we meet again for Kirtan and we will offer our chant to Ganesha, asking for God's protection and grace, for ourselves and for all around the world who are living through these tumultuous times.

Peace be with you,


Friday, February 18, 2011

Kirtan Circle Launches

The last few weeks have brought a sharply increased level of activity in my yoga teacher training activities. I would like to have written more blog posts about all these activities, but this flurry of stuff has really kept me busy. Since the start of the year, I have been apprenticing in a beginner's class, have attended two weekend intensive sessions and, last but definitely not least, have prepared and am ready to launch my project: Sun & Moon Yoga Studio's first Kirtan Circle.

As readers of this blog know, I am passionate about Bhakti yoga, which involves a form of devotional chant known as Kirtan. I knew, even before I began yoga teacher training, that I wanted to share this powerful practice with others. Like everything in yoga, talking or writing about a yoga practice is no substitute for actual doing it, so I have been strongly motivated to find a way to share what I know about this practice and give others the opportunity to experience it.

All Sun & Moon teacher trainees are required to do a project as part of the training, so I chose to develop a Kirtan Circle where people who know nothing about devotional chant can come and try it out. Since early January, I have met with a small group of interested yogis at the studio, teaching them what I have learned in the few years I have been practicing Kirtan. We have met every week that we can, learning chants, singing together and having a wonderful time.

Although I knew, and could sing, many chants that I had learned "by heart," so to speak, I quickly realized that I needed to find a way to bring instrumental accompaniment into the mix. Our practice group chanted to CDs and MP3 files for awhile, and I slowly began to pick out some of the tunes on my portable keyboard. Others brought drums and shakers and bells and before too long, we were singing "Jai Ganesha" and "Hare Krishna" without even having to turn on a CD player.

This weekend we are ready to open our practice to all interested participants. Our first Kirtan Circle will occur Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm. The Sun & Moon studio has been wonderfully supportive of this project, and has listed our Kirtan Circle dates on the website where you can find directions to the studio. If you are close by and can join us, please do. We would love to chant with you!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nearly-Wordless Wednesday

 Ice Storm

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Civility is Just the Beginning

This past week following the shootings in Tucson and attempted assassination of a member of Congress, a great deal of commentary has been broadcast by the media calling for more civility in our discussions with one another. In my view, civility is just a first step. We need to strive for so much more than mere civility in our dealings with one another. 

We need to strive for kindness and treating each other with compassion. Violence is never justified, and the weapons used in violent attacks on one another are sometimes physical, but can also be verbal.

This week, my yoga studio posted Judith Lasater's four-sentence definition and description of "ahimsa," one of the niyamas, or daily practices, put forth in the yoga sutras: 

"Ahimsa, usually translated as 'nonviolence.' This refers not only to physical violence, but also to the violence of words or thoughts. What we think about ourselves or others can be as powerful as any physical attempt to harm. To practice ahimsa is to be constantly vigilant, to observe ourselves in interaction with others and to notice our thoughts and intentions."

The combination of the yamas, or ethical practices, and the niyamas form, according to Stephen Cope, author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, the "eternal religion, because they represent the core practices of most religious systems." 

Advocating for nonviolence in "thought, word and deed" is not unique to the practice of yoga, but should be a principle that all in a civilized society strive to live by.

Let us treat each other as we would like to be treated. Let us choose our words with kindness, always striving to do no harm when we act or speak. Let us practice ahimsa in all that we do, remembering that when we say to each other "Namaste," we are not just acknowledging, but bowing to, the core divinity within each person.  


Friday, January 7, 2011

The Courage to Teach

Yesterday, I began the apprenticeship portion of yoga teacher training by sitting in, along with several of my fellow teacher-trainees, on a beginner-level yoga class. I sat up along the wall, by the door, scribbling copious notes into my notebook, relieved that I had two fellow trainees to sit there with me. I took a lot of notes and tried to be inconspicuous and I was further relieved when the students in the class began, one by one, to close their eyes and turn inward to follow their own process. Very quickly it seemed that they forgot we were even there--which was just fine with me!

I had been quite nervous about apprenticing, counting down the days until we started, and the uneasiness surprised me very much. There have been a number of things about this training program that have generated a case of the jitters for me, but coming into a class of beginners to be introduced as one who was actually deliberating seeking to teach yoga really threw me for a loop. 

Why would this particular part of the training program be so nerve-wracking? I asked myself this question a number of times. After all, I was a teacher for over two decades (in one of my previous lives, and about a subject that is very different from yoga: chemistry!) so I can envision myself as a teacher. I assumed, at first, that the nervousness was about the usual sense of not being quite as athletically-accomplished as I used to think a yoga teacher must be.

This is part of it, and the thought of having to demonstrate a pose in front of a group can easily account for at least some of the fear. I also remember, though, that there was a great deal of fear involved in teaching chemistry--and not only for the students, many of whom are afraid of the subject, worried about their grades, fearful of the math they often felt they didn't understand, and on and on. Fear runs both ways in the classroom: teachers are often quite fearful and this fear can amplify the student's fears. 

I was no different than most teachers and always felt nervous and, yes, afraid on the first day of class. I never got over the first-day jitters when I was teaching chemistry, even though I was very confident about my knowledge of the material. Those first-day jitters became every-day jitters whenever I taught one of the large lecture courses. It's scary to walk to the front of a room filled with two, three or four hundred people, especially people who mostly don't want to be there and who sometimes see you as a barrier between themselves and where they want to be (like medical school!)

So, thinking about being a yoga teacher has reminded me of what it means to be a teacher, period, and I realize that I am continuing a process begun long ago when I first began exploring what Parker Palmer calls the "inner landscape of a teacher's life." This is a phrase from Parker's wonderful book The Courage to Teach, and I benefited greatly both from the book and from Parker himself as he led me and hundreds of other teachers through workshops and retreats designed to help us find the courage to teach and keep teaching.

Now, as I look through this book, which I have not opened for at least ten years, I see so many things that seem they might have at least a little to do with how a Chemistry professor could start in the lab and lecture hall and end up on a yoga mat. Parker says, "Teaching holds a mirror to the soul," and "Knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject." Ideas like these encouraged me to consider the possibility that knowing myself better, such as through the practice of yoga, was good not only for me but for my students. It's probably no accident that I began the study of yoga about the time I first encountered Parker and his ideas.

Parker's ideas were always quite unique among those I engaged with in academia and I was thrilled to recently learn that he is continuing his work at the Center for Courage and Renewal. The programs at the center are mostly aimed at classroom teachers for academic subjects, since there is so little support in the academy for the idea that "knowing oneself" can have anything to do with good teaching. Most yoga teachers would never question this truth, but until I opened up Parker's book this week, I had managed to suppress the memory that it was, and is, a completely foreign idea in most universities and colleges.

Parker writes a lot, and eloquently, about the academic bias that says "objective facts are regarded as pure, while subjective feelings are suspect and sullied." This is true in all academic subjects, but is nearly an article of faith in the physical sciences, which was my subject. As Parker has observed, in this type of culture, the self is not the source within but, somehow, dangerous and truth-obscuring. In this culture, subjective feelings are not a potential source of guidance but obstacles to be overcome. In this culture, the truth is "out there," while "in here" all we can hope to find are our muddled, confused thoughts--which, of course, we need a teacher to help us sort through.

So, I think I will read some more of Parker's book, remembering just how much courage it took to teach science for so many decades, and just how it was that I tried to stay true to the principle of "know thyself" that he taught to us--and, what a privilege it is going to be to be a teacher again.