Daily Archives: August 22, 2003

One Can Learn Anywhere

Once upon a time, long time ago it was (a time of innocence / a time of confidences?), I was a parishioner at the Mennonite church in Bluffton, Ohio. In addition to being volunteered to teach youth groups about the Mennonite martyrs (which gave birth to the great memorization tool — thumbscrews, blunt force, burnt at the stake / severed tongue, rack-stretched, drowned in the lake — to remember the order of demise of the major participants), I also participated in a young adults study group where a number of interesting exercises were indulged in and then discussed. One of these exercises I provide for your edification and amazement below:

Take a piece of red construction paper and cut out a heart.
Take that paper heart and rip it into several pieces.
Using scotch tape, repair the heart.
Now, describe what that tells you about love.

Here is a paraphrase of my response:

First, the field from which the heart is cut illustrates that there is much more to love than we admit into our own perspective.

Second, the heart is a fragile thing that can be easily damaged and broken.

Third, the heart can be repaired. What repairs it is the adhesive bond of friendship and community, as well as sticking to it and believing that the “center will hold,” despite Yeats’ vision to the contrary.

Fourth, if you take the repaired, taped heart and handle it, look at it closely, you will notice one very important thing: because the ripped edges do not meet as closely as they did when the heart was a single piece of unmarred paper – it now includes a little bit of space between the parts. Your heart, thanks to the rending and breaking, and subsequently thanks to the added density of the tape which now holds it together, is bigger than it was before. In fact, it is perhaps even bigger than it would be if fitted into the original piece of red paper (the field of possible love, you’ll remember).

Finally, because of the tensile strength of the tape used to make the repairs, it is now much more difficult to break along the same lines. Yet, because only a single layer of tape is required to mend the broken heart, it is still as flexible as before; and its color and character, because of the transparent nature of the healing medium, are relatively unaffected and no less red and vibrant. In fact, it may be a bit shinier (and attractive).

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Changing the World

If I say I want to change the world

without asking first its permission
without asking the right questions
without first accepting my limitations
without wondering about my own role
without looking beyond my own hard science
without recognizing the status quo
without battling my own personal demons
without watching first, and listening
without staking my reputation
without risking seeming foolish
without figuring out what I am willing to die for
without doubting my own abilities
without seeing the possibility of loss
without shaking the roots of my faith
without wanting to be amused
without having second thoughts
without giving up what this world gives me
without reaching beyond my grasp
without rejecting some kind of immortality
without changing myself

what kind of revolutionary am I?

Only in a world that needs changing so desperately,
it clings to any prop, regardless of whether or not that prop may float
where those who populate that world
do not ask those questions of themselves,
without my prompting,
would such a revolutionary be followed.
I would not follow them, myself.

In that kind of world, there is no revolution,
only the illusion of rebellion,
a paper tiger tossed by an apathetic hand
into the glowing embers
of the same old song and dance.

How many revolutionaries does it take to change a light bulb?
One, if the light bulb wants to be changed.

22 AUG 2003

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