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xvii. Signs and Wonders - Teaching


Old English tæcan ‘to show, point out,’ also ‘to give instruction.’

Novel Lesson

Beneath the trees

Friday afternoon

that heat-wave week

in early February

the class on pine benches;

moss rocks

with a class-set novel

hurriedly borrowed

from the bookroom

because the hot school room

had turned us out

where pens slipped

in sweat-wet fingers.

But it happens sometimes,

where for an hour

the only noise

are flies and turning pages.

Quiet circles the class.

Each chapter

buries them deeper

in a fiction of the mind.

I hesitate to ask them

to finish the book

for weekend homework.

The siren beats me.

No one stirs to go.

They are not here.

Jeff Guess


Mullah Nasruddin and his son were riding the donkey to the town market. A group of people passed. Mulla heard them whisper: “What times are these? Look at those two, have they no mercy on the poor animal?”

Nasrudin, hearing this, tells his son to get off and continue the journey on foot. Another group of people passing by and seeing this comment: “What times are these? Look at this man. His poor son with his frail body has to walk while he at his best age is riding the donkey!”

Hearing this, Nasruddin tells his son to ride the donkey and he himself gets off to walk the rest of the way. A third group of people seeing this remark: “What times are these? This young man is riding the donkey while his sickly old father has to walk!”

Hearing this, Nasruddin tells his son to get off the animal and they both walk with the donkey trailing behind. Another group passing by point to them, laughing: “Look at these idiots. They have a donkey and they are walking all the way to the market!”

Sufi teaching story

Reading: The Gospel of Thomas

Jesus said to his disciples,

"Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."

Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just angel."

Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."

Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable

to say what you are like."


And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. St Luke 11:1-4

©Jeff Guess 2017

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