To comfort and to teach is what I believe we are all meant to do. 

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with two different people: first the daughter-in-law of my friend who recently passed and then a student of mine.  It was an afternoon of remembrance.  Remembrance of old times, old knowledge, and feelings.  It was also a time for discovery, because during the course of the day I discovered things about myself as well.

It has been four weeks since Teresa has passed and during that time I have been busy – busy doing “things”, paperwork, and stuff to get the business of life in order.  When she passed decisions needed to be made on a business level on how to reallocate the work for the organizations she was involved with.  That work has completed.  When I sat and talked with her daughter-in-law I found a mirror across from me.  She is young and dealing with the business of comforting her husband through this time.  She takes care of the paperwork and “stuff” of life left behind when some one passes – the water company, the electric, the cable.  All turned off; final bills paid.  For two hours we talked and comforted each other, laughing about life and how we kept busy in order to not deal with death.  A pagan and a christian, each respectful of the other’s beliefs, sitting together and understanding that what matters most at moments like this is one human spirit connecting with another, understanding through tears, laughter, and silence that in time all will be right again. 

After Stacy left my student and friend spent the rest of the afternoon with me.  It was an interesting conversation that we had revolving around her studies in paganism, the craft, and her spiritual growth.  No, this is not a student from the University.  She is someone I have known for a while who is also a good friend.  I knew that this time would be a new beginning for the two of us.  I just wasn’t sure where that beginning would take us.  We had started down the path of learning about a year or more ago.  She had done what was necessary to ask me to teach her – to take her on as a student.  At that time I gave her a few instructions and began to see how she would work through the assignments.  They were frustrating to her, she told me so, but she completed them.  We circled together, we laughed and cried together, and in the end she had spent a year (or so) with me without much in formal training.  So here we sat at a table in the bar of a restaurant.  We ordered drinks and ate popcorn.  I think told her that I had some questions for her before we continued.  Those questions were:

1. Have you learned anything over the last year since we began?

2. What is it you want to learn?

3. Do you still want me as a teacher?

This last year, disjointed as it might have seemed to everyone else, was a necessary part of her preparation.  Was she willing to do the things I asked, could she discover nuggets of enlightenment on her own, did she understand that not all teaching comes from formal lecture, and was she willing to open herself up to trust a teacher?  There were preconceived ideas of what “teaching” and “learning” are that needed to be broken down so that growth could take place.  Yes, she had learned a great deal this last year.  So had I; I learned what a great friend she is and what a beautiful soul she has.

We skipped the second question for the moment to address whether or not she still wanted me to be her teacher.  Yes, I was still the one she wanted to learn from, but the question had surprised her.  I knew that it would.  I reminded her that when we started this venture I had told her that we would spend time in a “trial period” and would revisit my role when that was over.  This was a necessary question because after the year her needs and desires might have changed and I might have decided we were not a good fit.  The year was the time to evaluate how well we could learn from each other.  Yes, learn from each other.  The best teacher will learn from their students different perspectives on old subjects.  She has taught me much this last year.  She remembered the conversation and yes, I knew that I was the one to teach her.

We then went to the question of what she wanted to learn.  The discussion was, and will remain, private.  In the end she will learn a great deal that will carry her forward on her path.  That path is not mine, I already know that.  I can teach her a great deal but I cannot teach nor give her a path to follow.  What I can do is teach her how to discover her own path and in my opinion that is the greatest lesson to learn – self discovery.