Oct 30, 2007

day of the dead

day of the dead

While the rest of Mexico will not be celebrating the Day of the Dead until Friday, I feel compelled to write about it now.

I debated long and hard about whether or not to mention this on my blog. After some words of encouragement from Jenny, I decided to break through the emotional dam that has kept the flood waters away from happy, crafty land.

This story begins 7 years ago, when I was 19. My friend Laura was killed. Michael Moore dedicated his film, Bowling for Columbine, to Laura.

I spent the subsequent years pondering questions of good and evil, free will and lack thereof, bad vs. abnormal, atheism and theism. I think a good number of my college papers dealt with these themes - thankfully I was in a Great Books program that allowed for such philosophical exploration. My senior thesis was an exploration of the development of "the human will" in the educational system (or lack thereof, really) and how this lack of development can engender a culture of violence. When you get right down to it, this is the reason I went into education, and the reason I believe so firmly in educational philosophies that treat children with the utmost respect. Children treated with respect will, in turn, treat others with that same respect. Violence breeds violence. Respect encourages respect. I just wanted to do my part to put a wrench in the cycle of violence.

Yesterday, I found out that my friend Marijke, who was in my Montessori training course with me, was killed. The circumstances are horrific. She is survived by her 3 1/2 year-old twin daughters, now orphans.

I didn't go to school today, because one of my students told me yesterday that his father is threatening to kill his mother. He is four. He is seeing this, hearing this. How will this little boy treat others when he grows up? I needed a day off to reflect and to attempt to digest the news about Marijke.

I am not the only one who has two friends that were murdered. The situation is astronomically worse in Iraq, and in many other forgotten corners of the Earth. Violence breeds violence. Perhaps this is why humans seem incapable of learning from history. They simply absorb patterns of behavior that their parents, televisions, and countries act out in front of them. What are we going to do about this?

************************************************************************************

Thank you for listening. Fortunately, I am generally a very content, happy person. You can expect to be back to your "regularly scheduled posts" very shortly. In the meantime, I'm off to take a warm bath, sip a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy the beauty of the falling leaves.

45 comments:

Laura said...

Meg,
Thank you for posting from your heart. I am so sorry that you and the families of those you mentioned have had to experience such senseless horror. I agree with you in the difference we can make through education. I appreciate you bringing to our attention something that is easy to forget about or minimize when one has not experienced it personally. I read your post every day and think you are awesome. Keep it up. I will be thinking of you.
Laura

Stephanie said...

Thank you for having the courage to share this. I am another who checks your blog regularly - I find it so refreshing and visually agreeable. I love reading your words, and looking at your pictures, on Montessori. I hope you feel better after you have had a chance to recharge.
Peace ~ Stephanie

Karina said...

Meg,
Thank you for sharing this.
I'm regularly checking your blog and it helps me when i feel sad to find inspiration. I hope you’ll feel better soon.
Karina

mountain-quiltist said...

Meg, heartfelt condolences for the loss of your friend...I'm so sorry. The death of a friend is hard under any circumstances, but even more so when it is an un-natural death ~ it brings up all the vagaries of life and can start our "fear" chorus. So, you be good to yourself and muster strength so that you can help your young charge with his own situation at home.
I appreciate your sharing this with us and trusting that we were worthy of hearing it.
Susan

Domesticrazy said...

My thoughts and best wishes are with you, and you have my condolences on your loss. Every child you teach needs the peaceful education you give them, but that four year old needs it more than the others. Please keep your chin up...you are an inspiration not only to those you teach but also to those of us just starting on the path of this type of education. I hope things get better soon...

JaimeM said...

Thank you for sharing. The loss of a friend is difficult no matter the circumstances and I am very sad also to hear about the little boy and his family. Things just don't make sense sometimes, but it's good you are taking a little re-charge moment. Will be looking forward to your postings again soon.

plaidshoes said...

I can't imagine the pain of losing close friends, especialy in such horrible ways. Then to hear of a home-situation like the little boys. Teacher's have so much on their shoulder's. I am sure your classroom is a much needed room of peace. (This is also why I really believe in Maria Montessori - she witnessed the violence and chose to believe that she could make a difference, and did.) I hope things look brighter, soon. My sympathies.

marit said...

Meg, I am so sorry for your loss, and I am glad you found the strenght to share it. I think your effort in teaching and life in general makes a difference for those meeting you, either in real life, or through your blog. Take care.
Marit

Girl Friday said...

Thank you for being so brave and sharing your pain so openly. It is heartbreaking to learn of more senseless violence. My thoughts are with you and the families.

lina said...

I'm relatively new to your blog, but felt compelled to delurk and say that I'm sorry for your loss. It sounds like you're a passionate and dedicated teacher and it must be a worry to hear words like this from such little ones.

Emily/ Five Flowers said...

Thank you for your post. I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I had the words to say that would make it all make sense, but I don't. I think all we can do is be the positive light in the world, put out that positive energy, and hope to change the world that way. I hope you can get some emotional rest.
xxoo

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. It is hard to accept in tragic circumstances. I wish you peace and thank you for the love and peace you provide to your children.

Marie/x

amanda said...

hugs to you today, Meg. There's so much more to say than that, of course...but that will have to wait until a cozy visit over tea sometime. Someday. xoxo.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I lost one of my dearest friends in high school ten years ago. I pray that the Lord will comfort you and everyone else involved through this time and that He will protect your precious student.

Natalie said...

I'm sorry, sorry, sorry.
Take care of yourself, so that you can carry on the very important work you are accomplishing.
Comfort and peace.

Bean said...

After my dad was killed, it gave me a new outlook on everything, too... violence does beget violence, we all learn by example.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friends (((hug))) I have another friend who knew Marijke, too, and just saw her in September. It's all so sad... her poor babies :(

Kimberly said...

Just thinking of you.. hoping you're feeling better.
Best,
Kim

Julia said...

thank you for speaking your feelings. although your are grieving right now, know that the rest of the world is a better place because of you and your efforts (however minor they may seem) to prevent violence and teach love and respect. this is a crucial job that you take on everyday. i'm so sorry for your losses and hope that you can find peace in your efforts to prevent this horrific acts in the future. thank you for sharing and for all that you do. sending love your way.

amy said...

Sorry about the loss of your friend. Things often in life don't make sense but apparently happen for a reason. I would need a week to recharge after all you have been through.Post when you like and what you like. You don't have to please anyone remember. :)

Jenna said...

I'm really sorry about your friends. I can't imagine how hard it must be for you to wrap your mind around this. It's so sad.

sara said...

My heart goes out to you. Thanks for keeping things real and opening yourself up. Life isn't always hunky dory of course and without the sorrow, we would not be able to experience the great joy. But it definitely is more challenging getting though the down times. Good job for taking care of yourself. I hope things will begin to be sunnier for you soon.

Susan said...

Meg, Before I became a Montessori teacher at the age of 40, I was a domestic violence counselor for men that batter women for almost ten years. These men had been arrested and part of their sentencing included this training. It was listening to men the age of 17 - 70, gang bangers to lawyers, that eventually drew me to working with children. This choice remains an ongoing act of violence prevention. So many men told me that they were deprived - the quick thought is of food and shelter ( that was often true) the most often overlooked notion of deprivation is , as they stated, the lack of anyone listening to their stories, of adults engaging with them in loving and respectful ways, the lack of any art, or appreciation of beauty in their lives, and so much more. My work as a Montessori primary directress is a direct extension of this work with men. Every painting, pouring of grains, polishing of shoes, every yoga pose, every lesson with the golden beads and with the moveable alphabet is peace in action. Here is a poem - Susan Dyer


The Moveable Alphabet
- Susan Y. Dyer

After a morning of
Helping some write
Short poems about
Flip flops and pony tails,
I view two boys lay
One same consonant
On top of another.

I have witnessed sunbathers
Pile beach stones;
The smaller balanced on the larger.
Stone temples left for
Others seeking the same.

I have seen the faithful
Fingering their japa malas.
A mantra repeated after
Each nimble touch of a bead;
Sacred coupling of prayer and touch.

I have watched Indian dancers
Tap their fingers together
So purposefully that
Your own begin to pulse.
A fingered expression of devotion.

Again, I observe the two boys
With the plastic, blue and red,
Moveable, cursive shapes;
Eyes and hands synchronized.
I sing a silent chant, say a
Final poem and end my day in
Praise of small children.

sy.dyer@gmail.com

Bethany Hissong said...

Meg, you're absolutely right. I tell people this all the time: these kids are seeing violence on tv, at movies, at home... kids express what they see somehow and that means usually acting it out. I observe this on the playground. I am raising two children and I wonder what they will deal with in their lifetime. We just dealt with the murder of a whole family here in our small town last summer. Just a normal boy who, for whatever reason, decided to kill his best friend's family. It's ridiculous. I am so fed up with people who don't get this!!!! I am so sorry for your loss of your friend... I read the little article and it seems so senseless. Take care of yourself-- you are doing good things and you would be surprised at how much a little good does spread! Especially with the ages you teach. I'll put you in my prayers tonight.

Susan said...

Meg - ooops I sent an early draft of the poem - side kick to being a Montessorian is a little bit of obsessive compulsion - I have to send you the edited one - even though I feel guilty about the length - so here it is and I hope you enjoy it.

The Moveable Alphabet
By Susan Y. Dyer

After a morning of
Helping some write
Short poems about
Flip flops and pony tails,
I view two boys lay
One same consonant
On top of another.

I have witnessed sunbathers
Pile beach stones;
The smaller balanced on the larger.
Stone temples left for
Others seeking the same.

I have seen the faithful
Fingering their japa malas.
A mantra repeated after
Each nimble touch of a bead;
Sacred coupling of prayer and touch.

I have watched Indian dancers
Tap their fingers together
So purposefully that
My own began to pulse.
A fingered expression of devotion.

Again, I observe the two boys
With the plastic, blue and red,
Moveable, cursive shapes;
Eyes and hands synchronized.
I sing a silent chant, say a
Final poem and end my day in
Praise of small children.


sy.dyer@gmail.com

Christie said...

I am sitting in front of my computer, nursing my young daughter & crying after reading your post. When will we learn? I worry about the world that we live in, & what it will be like when my children grow up. I worry that there are children in the world that don't even have a safe place to call home for whatever reason.
Thanks you for your blog & for this post, I hope you are have some quiet time to yourself to recharge, my thoughts are with you.

Tonya Denmark said...

Meg, I just discovered your blog and was truly excited to see your post about Christmas traditions (I am looking forward to participating) and I was so sorry to read about your loss. Thank you for sharing such intimate details, but know your words are far-reaching and add a little light to others. Pause, breathe, reflect. Peace be with you.

Stephanie Ozenne said...

I am so very sorry. Thank you for sharing, and please, feel free to do so any time you think it helps. I hope it gives you some solace to know that strangers out here in computer-land are sending hugs your way.

jenny said...

Oh Meg. I'm glad you decided to share. It couldn't have been easy. I'm so sorry for the hard time you're going through. I can't even imagine. I admire your bravery and desire to make a difference in people's lives. I hope your day of rest gave you some strength to go back to work tomorrow. I'm thinking of you and wishing you happiness.

erin said...

Meg, I am so sorry that you have to go through this. Thinking of you. Hugs.

Amy Caroline said...

This is my first visit to your blog and was simply amazed at the gifts you have! You are a truly talented and amazing woman.
I am sorry for your loss and know how hard it can be to loose a close friend who was only in their prime. I can still hear my mother in law yelling at us when we told her our friend died. How it had to be a lie. Her grief, as ours, was too much to contain.
You are right. Violence breeds violence. And we all must do what we can to try and create peace for those around us. It may seem small compared to things like war, but it is a start.

Meredith said...

Beautiful and heartfelt post Meg. I will be keeping you and the souls of your friends in my prayers as we celebrate the feasts this week. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Mefuza said...

I am sorry to hear about your friend. Senseless acts like these just makes me cringe. Your role is very admirable. You are so right. Violence breeds violence and we all need to do our part to stop that cycle.

mamalyssa said...

Dear Meg,
First, I am deeply sorry for the loss of your friends and for the situation your student is in. I know how hard that is, that feeling of wanting to gather up your students and bring them all home with you.
I don't know what your faith is, but I just wanted to offer up something that has helped me a lot - karma. Not in a feel good way, in the subtle, complex, unfathomable way that it operates. It doesn't make it easier, but it is helpful for me to know that it is a much bigger picture then I can see. My husband is Tibetan, and I have heard more than one Tibetan offer that they think that all of the suffering and violence China inflicted upon their people was terrible, but that maybe, those Tibetans who dies were really bodhisattvas who offered their lives for Buddhism and the Dalai Lama's wisdom to get out into the world. It doesn't make it RIGHT, but it gives it a broader perspective of the possibilities.
I hope that my frustration and anger and emotion towards violence and hate and disregard for life can be transformed into something that will ultimately be helpful... that it can call me to action. It sounds like this has happened for you, too, and I would be so pleased to see my 4 year old in your classroom.
The Dalai Lama reminds us that we need to shift the focus of education - that we need to start with the HEART, and find ways to create compassionate, intelligent human beings, children who will grow up with the creative, flexible intellect to end suffering.
I think that with people like you and others who I see commenting, we CAN.
Warmest thoughts,
Alyssa

Carrie said...

Meg,
It takes such courage to speak from the heart and to offer up our truths in an unflinchingly real and honest way. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. I respect the idea of keeping blogs "sunny", but appreciate the opportunity to send prayers/energy/healing light toward you and those that are most effected by the tragedies that you've described.
The first step in changing our world is to recognize the problems and then speak out. Thank you for being inspiring on so many levels.
Carrie

Kate said...

I have known Sean & Marijke for 10 years. This tragedy was so shocking to everyone. I used to take my son to play with her girls. We haven't told him yet b/c what do you say? I don't want him to know that this is a possibility, that he could lose his parents. My heart breaks for both families. They are suffering the greatest. Marijke had many friends and she was an amazing person. Her smile was so contagious. I will miss her dearly.

I like to make stuff! said...

So sorry to hear about this. Often we see these things on the news and think "how awful" but unless it's someone close to you, it's just another story. My next door neighbour's wife and child were murdered on their way home from school 10 years ago (the other daughter survived the attack with major head trauma). It's hard to understand.

Angela said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm so sorry.

macati said...

qtnt
wordless... speechless...

kvarnaboanten said...

Dear Meg, my thoughts are with you.
María, la sueca

jojoebi said...

Hi Meg, How are you holding up?
Whilst reading your post yesterday, I had a call from my mom to say my granma had just died, I couldn't manage to write then.
It is hard enough when someone you love dies of natural causes but to be cut down in their prime due to mindless violence is so much harder. Like many others I worry about the violence the my son will be exposed too, there is only so much a parent can protect him from.
I hope the morning brings you peace.
jo

Leah said...

I am sorry about your friend. You and many of us parent types can have a big impact just by being loving and respectful to the children in our lives and I always read that from your blog.

Nicki said...

Thinking of you Meg - big hugs, take care

michelle said...

I am sorry for your loss. My child's Montessori teacher directed me to your blog to see your amazing work.
I am amazed.

Never discount your ability to change the world through one child. A drop in the pond will result in infinite ripples. You are making a difference.
peace and light,
Michelle

Beverly said...

I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

http://www.friendsofmarijke.com/index.html