I don't think people learn much in May, at least not the school kind of learning. May is mostly disrupted schedules, noisy celebrations, chaos of many varieties. There were projects and exams, yes, but mostly, if you haven't learned it by now, you probably won't, not this year.
At the beginning of the month, I wrote down on my "What I Learned" list that I had reread the shipwreck book.
Jonathan Martin writes, "The bad news is that this shipwreck feels like death, because you really may be dying. The bad news is that old and familiar things you loved and that made you what you were are slowly passing away. The good news is you're being born, and the drowning makes possible the moment when all things become new - most of all, you.
Maybe a preacher on the radio told you once you could be born again if you just repeated a prayer after him. How I wish this were so. But the Scripture where a man named Nicodemus comes under cloak of night for a secret rendezvous with Jesus, and the prophet speaks to him about being born again, is also the place where Jesus talks about that Spirit, the one who broods over the sea, bringing life and beauty out of chaos. The Spirit is like the wind, he says; you don't know where it comes from - and you don't know where it is going. And the people who say yes to this undomesticated Spirit, the people who say yes to the wind - yes to the sea - will be like this Spirit, not knowing where they came from, or where they are going. They are people who learn to trust the wind instead of fighting it, people who learn to navigate the chaos rather than eliminate it. They will be people born of Spirit, people born of the violence of the storm and the wildness of the wind. And because the Spirit who enters them is the Spirit of life itself, they will live forever.
You can't descend back into the waters of your mother's womb, the prophet tells Nicodemus. But you can be born again; you can be made new. It's just that when you do, it won't be because you made 'a decision for Jesus,' because you prayed the magic prayer. If you wish to become someone and something else entirely than the you that was before the storm came...you will have to peer into the sea that threatens to swallow you whole, dive into the mouth of it - and trust. You will have to let God happen to you, which requires letting life happen to you, all the way down. You cannot continue to flail your arms, beat against the sea, and damn the waves. You have to let yourself go all the way under - into the depths of God, into the depths of your own soul, into the depths, of life itself."
So yeah, that. I keep learning that.
Even though nobody was learning much, I did get observed teaching by an administrator on May 15th. Why didn't he come see me teaching when I was dispensing wisdom back in October? But no, he wanted to see my weary May attempts.
Today we have Graduation and say goodbye to our Seniors, and then the late May early June goodbyes accelerate as colleagues who are leaving pack up and actually leave, finishing the agonizing process they started months ago. This year especially, I am losing some people who have become extremely important to me.
So I keep learning that, too.
Here's what I learned in January, February, March, April.
3 hours ago