Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer School 27: Have Patience and Expect Wonderful Things

Put me down as the author who writes things because she wants to let go of them because I did not expect to read about Aaron Green's death in the chapters of Prayer of the Laughing Yoga Frog that I'm moving into this larger story.  I remember trying to write a story that felt like a fable, but now that I read it I cringe a bit, seeing my grief roughly frosted with uneven layers of rocks and frogs and gratitude.

Cringing doesn't stop me from pushing this through to the end. This story isn't not for me to read, it's for me to write. So I'll keep writing, and you will keep trusting me that I'm taking this whole story somewhere worth going. 

When I last left you I was dealing with the grief of losing Carol Strickland and Aaron Green and Marvin Scott giving out lucky rocks and taking pictures with each student.  Trust me, these details are important. Ready? Back to the story.  

From Prayer of the Laughing Yoga Frog:

The professor often met students who were in college but not really.  They would come to class once and sit off from the rest of the class, take a week off, then wander in lost and confused and then take another week off to recover.

 If and when the professor could get such students to her office she would remind them of a Buddhist proverb: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears" and offer to them that they really weren't meant to be learning this from her, here and now.

 Sometimes she would continue in her explanation, saying perhaps they weren't coming to class thirsty for knowledge but surely they were learning a lot somewhere else in their life, that something was really compelling them with passion and growth.

 Students often looked down and sad to hear the truth and graciously be allowed to admit that they didn't really want to be in college not now, not here.

 The professor would remind them they were free, and then wished them well on their path, arming them with a lucky stone.

As the twenty-first century college world would have it, most students didn't ever come to the professor's office.

They came to class, asked questions in class or on email, and went on with their life without ever meeting the Laughing Yoga Frog.

Because the professor spent so many hours in her office she had plenty of time to grade exams, write lectures, answer email, compile learning outcomes, water her plants, rearrange her stones and stare out the window at the planes going by.

Sometimes the professor got up from her chair and stood in the tree pose with her frog, falling out of the pose, laughing.
Sometimes she forgot to laugh and instead sat hunched in her chair staring at Dr. Seuss WW2 cartoons, trying to pick exactly the right four  images that together could tell a good story.

On an especially quiet day when the professor had no one to meet with, nothing to grade and nothing to write she stared and stared at the Laughing Yoga Frog and then finally asked of it what she always wanted know.
What are you laughing at?
What are you praying for?
Are you praying thank you for something delightful that you received?
Or are you praying thank you for something delightful you know you'll get?
Something told her it was the last thing, that the frog was smiling, waiting silently and tree-like, immobile in its faithful expectation of joy. 


Semester after semester the professor and her students and the rocks and the Laughing Yoga Frog continued their dance.

Students went through her class and off into their lives to become mothers and warriors and dentists and engineers and artists and philanthropists and musicians and whatever else seed that was planted in their soul and watered by experience and nurtured by hope.

The professor came and went day after day into her office life and back into her mother life.

 Every day she was thankful to the universe and her creator that she had an office, this office with crystals and rainbows and frogs and stones and students.

And then at the end of one particular semester just as the professor was packing up her lucky rocks and her laptop to take pictures and a box of empty final exams full of spaces for students to explain "Marshall Plan" and "Buck vs. Bell" she noticed the frog and wondered, "Would you like to come?"

Yes? The frog didn't protest so the professor tucked the frog under one arm, slung the box of exams and such under the other arm, and marched down the halls full of college students huddled in study groups surrounded by puddles of notes.

She acted as if it were totally normal to be walking down the hall with a statue of a Laughing Yoga Frog, like this is just how things are supposed to be today.

Upon entering her large class the professor put her frog down, set up for the exam and when it was time to start the exam - but not a minute before - she asked the students for their attention to tell them one last story for the semester.

She holds the frog up.

I brought the Laughing Yoga Frog for you today to help during exams. Sometimes I hold it and pretend it’s the Pulitzer Prize for comedy and practice my acceptance speech.  

The class laughed, and the professor continued with a short tale of falling in love with the frog, leaving it, visiting it, leaving it, again, then finally retrieving it.
 The class stares at her for a moment, the word "so?" ha
nging over their heads collectively, silently, heavily.
This was their final exam; they were not expecting to hear about the Cracker Barrel gift shop.

The professor puts the frog down and tells her students that the frog has taught her a great deal.  What the universe intends for you, you will receive.  This frog waited for me, she tells them, and adds, this frog is to remind you that what is intended for you will be something joyful, something that you will find and will find you.

Smiles of relief cross the room.

The professor picks up a heavy stack of exams and asks who's ready to take an exam and even though no one said yes please she decided to give them their final exams anyway.

One by one as the students finished their exams the professor let them pick their stone -- or rather, let their stone find them -- and took a picture with each student, their stone and the Laughing Yoga Frog.

When the last student finishes her exam she begs for mercy and the professor promises to read the exam carefully.  They take a picture together and the student carries her lucky rock -- amber -- out of history class and off into the rest of her life.

The professor packed the exams neatly and again tucked the frog under her arm and walked through the hallway stepping over the twisted tangled study groups of students that lined the wall.

When she got back to her office the professor put the frog back in her spot below the crystal and next to the wind chimes. She stacked the exams up neatly, turned her office light off and went home to think about things big and small.
The next day the professor gave another exam.
Again she brought the frog.

Again she told them the story of Cracker Barrel and pointed out that what was meant for them they will most definitely get.

Again she told them it was her pretend Pulitzer. Again she told them to marvel at the tree pose, that finding balance and strength and joy takes practice and intention.

This time she added that the universe was always growing and expanding and many of the wonderful things intending for them are still only being imagined.

Have patience and expect wonderful things, she tells them and then tells them to put everything away and take their history exam.

One by one students pose with the frog, with their rocks.  

When the last student leaves the room the professor stacks the exams neatly and carries the papers and the Laughing Yoga Frog back to her office.

That night the Laughing Yoga Frog looked up into the moonbeams and broke her silence with small words crammed in one joyful prayerful thought bubble proclaiming, "I'm almost there."


If you are enjoying this story about former students, I hope you will consider supporting a current student, Marvin Cristopher Blanco