Friday, July 4, 2008

The Protestant Version of Pergatory

Today, at the beginning, had the basic appearance of an easy day. Unlike most Fridays, where I play a game with each class, there was a speech contest for each class today. The kids have been memorizing one of two short stories ("Country Mouse and City Mouse" and "Sly Gretel") for the past few weeks, and today they were to recite the stories in front of me. I was to listen to each student, grade them, and then pick a first and second place winner from each class. Easy, low-key day, right? Well...

After sitting through six straight hours of students struggling through two increasingly boring stories, I have emerged with a clear picture of what purgatory would be like (if it existed). By the end of the day, it was all I could do to keep from falling into a coma as each student recited. I will probably dream about "Country Mouse and City Mouse" for the next few months. It'll be one of those nightmares where I emerge from bed in a cold sweat with my pulse racing and a strong desire to lay in a fetal position.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"