Shifting the Focus
Thoughts on Martha and Mary

"Thank You For Teaching Me"

Yesterday, I accompanied my daughter Rosa to her violin lesson. Rosa has been studying the violin for about two years now, but we only found this particularly wonderful teacher about 4-5 months ago. She uses the New Approach, a modified Suzuki method, with great results.

Anyways, at the end of every lesson, she has taught Rosa to tuck her violin under her arm and face her teacher, bow and say, "Thank you for teaching me." Then, her teacher bows to Rosa and says "Thank you for listening." Sometimes the teacher goes first and Rosa responds. I've seen them do this before, but last night this simple exchange really caught my attention, and struck me as very beautiful.

So, today I spent some time with someone in our community who is learning to use the blog. A number of "old dogs" around here try to remind me how hard it is to learn new tricks, but I have faith in each and every one of them. But I am not very experienced at teaching people how to do things on a computer, and sometimes my blogging lessons have ended in mutual frustration. Today, things went a bit better, and as I was leaving, I thought of Rosa and her teacher. I suggested that my "student" and I try the same ritual. I bowed to him and thanked him for listening to me. Then he bowed to me, and said, "Thank you for teaching me." It was simple--almost a bit silly--but I found myself deeply touched.

And then a funny thing happened. My friend turned to his wife and said with a bit of a wink, "That would be a good practice even for people who live with each other." His wife looked a bit bemused. "I keep trying to teach him things," she said, "but he doesn't listen!" "All the more reason to say these things out loud," I said. "That way you can let her know that she has, in fact, taught you something. And you can let him know that you have noticed him listening." I invited them to find some time this week to say these words to each other.

"Thank you for teaching US," my friend said as I left. "Thank you for listening," I said, getting choked up.

Wow--who knew something so simple could be so powerful? Now I want to say these words 20 times a day! Who has taught you today? Who has listened to you as a teacher?

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Elaine Buderer

Heather,
Thank you for teaching me this lesson.
~Elaine B.

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