Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Personal Passions– 1 of 3– from UUSS Worship– Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013
April 7, 2013, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Inspiration, Reflections, Sermon Archives and Excerpts

This is one of three member testimonies about personal passion from a recent service where I was the preacher.   

I’m 15 years old and spending my lunch period in my history teacher’s classroom. His name was Greg Parker, and this is where all the kids went who didn’t think it was a good idea to have their lunches devoured by hungry, ravenous gulls. I’m playing chess, I had since made a habit of playing chess for money. I slide my queen to H8 and that’s checkmate. My opponent has nowhere else to go, and I have a free lunch coming my way, free french fries always taste better. But today, I received an important lesson about the importance of a subject that I would’ve otherwise thought worthless, and by extension the whole of my education. Mr. Parker comes up to me, and says “Mr. Brady, I know you don’t have a very high opinion of history, most kids your age don’t. But you’re bright kid, so I’m going to to tell you something, the reason we study things like math and history, even though we may not use them directly, is so that we can look at the patterns of the past and the present and have a better idea of what we should do about them.
It’s been roughly 14 years since that day, and I’d like to think that that day played a significant role in me becoming the best under credentialed tutor in the humanities you can find. I work with kids and people going through lower division undergrad work in college, I tutor in Spanish, English, American government, and when I’m feeling adventurous maybe even some mathematics. My work on the fringes of education has taught me that patience is more than a virtue, it is a necessity, and one that I admittedly find myself in short supply of at times.
But being a tutor means you are in a constant state of learning, you can never allow your knowledge to become stale and it forces you to always see things from someone’s perspective other than your own. That’s what it’s done for me, it’s helped me realize that I can’t unknow what I’ve learned, and when I’m able to see things from  perspectives other than my own, as I so often tell my students is necessary, I’ve come to understand that compassion is the most fruitful byproduct of education. And it’s the greatest gift I can give any student; the ability to see in themselves the interlocking of each of these subjects that he or she may be studying, and how it leads to a broader sense of empathy for both them and me. And it’s through this work that I’ve come to realize that education is the gateway to compassion, the building of a global spiritual community, and as someone else much smarter than I once said, the highest form of human wisdom. Thank you.

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