我想我的中文老师不喜欢我

因老师(Professor Minn) loves to tell stories to help us remember how to write our Chinese characters.  I wrote before about the story behind the characters for ‘tolerant’ and ‘family’.  So far this semester we have heard about the Chinese affinity for water buffalos and how really seeing someone involves your legs.  There is a good mix of the funny and the profound in Professor Minn’s stories and I love the times in class when you can tell she wants so badly for us to see the beauty and the wisdom of the culture as she sees it.

A few days ago in class, we were learning new vocabulary, and 因老师 brought up the word 休息 (xiuxi) which means ‘to rest’.  The word includes the character for ‘person’, ‘tree’, and ‘heart’.  According to 因老师, this is important, because when a person lays down under a tree, they get their heart back.

She went on to explain that when you are so busy all the time, doing this and doing that, you lose your heart.  You get tired, frustrated, and worn out.  Not only your body, but also your heart.  You can only keep doing and keep moving and keep pouring out for so long before you are exhausted and empty.

Its important to take time to rest, to take time to be, to appreciate stillness.
Because when you rest, you get your heart back.

International Relations

What does it mean to believe in peace?

I was sitting in class a few days ago, listening to Professor Sadik lecture on the role of world history in the field of International Relations and Political Science.  That day, he focused especially on the Cold War time period.

I think there is a “cold war” attitude to life.  And I think I often fall into it.  I claim to desire peace, but that means more than disagreeing with war.  I think pacifism extends to our attitudes and our hearts.  Seems like a pretty obvious idea.  Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom where swords are beaten into plowshares, where shepherds are kings, and where justice, mercy, and faithfulness are the essense of the law.

Is that how I live?  Do I interact with those around me out of respect and love or out of fear?  Do I have a cold war attitude, building up my walls and my resume to deter attack and if necessary, shoot someone else down if they threaten me?  Am I trying to live like Christ or as a military super power?

I think peace means giving up our need to be on the offensive, even for the sake of defending.  I think its giving up our need to balance power with power.  I think we have to give up our fear of being hurt.  We’re so willing to protect ourselves and so afraid to be vulnerable, to reach out, to lift up, and to love.

I think peace is harder than war and sometimes more frightening, probably because its such an unknown.
I want to live more peacefully.

Dr. Jones

Petrarch:  notable 14th century poet and humanist.  Italian.  Kicked by a donkey at age 42.

His tomb was opened in 2003.  His body was found and verified to, in fact, be his body.

The odd thing is, the skull in the tomb was not his.  DNA testing confirmed that a headless Petrarch was residing with a unfamiliar skull.  As in, not his own.  As in, when the tomb was opened previously, someone must have snatched Petrarch’s skull. Whose skull is in the tomb with Petrarch’s skeleton now?  That is what I want to know.

The University of Padua is requesting the return of the original skull.

I took a walk…

11:30, the moon shining down on the dead limbs of winter frozen trees, a night as close to silent as the city comes.  The trees were leafless and grey, but dignified.  The wind was gently blowing, brisk and sharp.  A cool that doesn’t pierce your skin, but awakens you.  Snow was falling.  Not accumulating on the ground, just falling so it hit your face and glimmered under street lamps.    Hints of green in the shrubbery and sod.  Soft glow of florescent lights.  I felt, once again, what it is to be struck by beauty.  To want to hold so still to avoid disturbing the scene.  To want to pause the moment, to hold on to the feeling.  And yet to want to move, to find where else this could be found and to bring that beauty to the places in which it doesn’t exist.

I remembered tonight what it felt like to be captivated.

A Lantern in Her Hand…

I’m reading a book my mother strongly recommended. A Lantern in Her Hand, about the life of Abigail Mackenzie-Deal, a little girl caught up in the “move west, young man” generation, who pretends to be a famous singer on the prairie and dreams of her genteel Scottish grandmother who had beautiful long, soft white hands.

I’m currently about a fourth of the way into the story, right where Abbie is preparing to leave her family and move even further west with her husband, Will, who calls her his “Abbie-girl”.

As they are preparing to leave, the author writes:

“Will’s eyes, full of the light of hope and courage, looked to the west. But Abbie’s, tear-misted, clung to the east.”

I love the imagery and emotion of these sentences. I guess that’s why I am an English major.