Saturday, April 9, 2011

15 Year Old Teachers

I have been revisiting my blog. I have been rethinking this chambered nautilus space. I have grown too comfortable here.

In 2007 when I started The Chambered Nautilus: Deep calls to Deep this was a giant leap for me into the unknown and the uncomfortable. I created the blog because I was teaching a creative writing class and I challenged the students to get out of their comfort zone—start a blog, submit something for publication. My philosophy in teaching is that I do not give assignments or challenges I will not engage or do. I took my own challenge and this blog was birthed. It has been a place of solace for me.

I was mesmerized by this chambered mystery, but I hadn’t thought a great deal about my blog or its map legend too much since its inception. Recently I started to feel cramped again. I hadn’t stretched to full length in a long while. I realized I was staying in a close, tight space—a little afraid, reluctant to push outward.

Fearful of taking another risk

Suddenly, once again this symbol began to appear—vying for my attention. Reminding me of what God has done and is doing in me. A good friend, an incredibly thoughtful friend, gave me a birthday bag the week before my birthday. It was filled with special things, most of them centered on the chambered nautilus. And this wasn’t the first time she had showered me with gifts emblazoned with my symbol.

Finally it dawned on me. Was I missing something? Was the sweet Spirit of God whispering to me and I was not hearing because it was all too familiar?

A couple of weeks ago I assigned my public speaking class a high school version of show and tell. It was an improv of sorts with minimal preparation. As I stated my philosophy in teaching is that I don’t and won’t give the students an assignment that I am unwilling to do myself. In keeping with this philosophy I brought in my beautiful chambered nautilus to share. Most of the group had never seen or heard of this ancient creature or their incrementally beautiful shell.

I hadn’t shared about my map legend in a long time and it felt good to tell the story again. I did wonder, however, how many of the students had really even listened, let alone were interested.

My birthday was April 1st. I had an incredible day. Family, friends, students, teachers and coworkers were so wonderful and filled my day with so many incredible wishes and thoughts and sentiments. One gift, however, surprised and stunned me. I didn’t expect a gift from this person, and I certainly didn’t expect what he gave. One of my freshmen public speaking students came to me during my planning period and handed me a folded piece of paper. In his quiet, unassuming way he said, “This is for you.”

I opened the paper. At the top he had drawn three stars and Happy Birthday!!! His scratchy handwriting filled the space from top to bottom. I started to read. I finished and read again. And again.

God speaks. God speaks regardless.

And he teaches 45 year old teachers through 15 year old students.

Here is what he wrote. I asked for his permission to print and share this with you—my chambered nautilus readers.


I am a nautilus shell
Tiny, vulnerable and wiry

I am stuck between the light and the dark of the ocean.
I long for the light, but the dark is always pulling.

I am unwilling to grow
I am afraid of my vulnerability
I am trapped in my own shell.

I need room to grow, to expand my chambers,
To grow though means to become vulnerable
To become vulnerable means I could be hurt.

I am looking for a sign, signal—something saying it’s
Time for me to grow.

I am a fully grown nautilus shell.

I am no longer afraid of my vulnerability.
I am no longer trapped in my shell.
I am no longer unwilling to grow.

I’ve heard the signal.
It came like a whisper in the wind—
Calm, shy, fleeting.

My shell is grown.
My sign found.
I am in the light of God.

Ben Schanding

3 comments:

mommaclark said...

Enjoy your blog, even if you grow comfortable, it is a creative outlet. I myself dream of becoming a writer some day

Mac Goddard said...

Ben has one incredible teacher!

christylw39 said...

I agree with Mac....