School Terribly Wonderful

Transparent blue liquid bubbles in a slim beaker gradually formed an electric azul crystal that I gently placed on my bedroom shelf.

Ms. Papadopoulos taught history of the ancient Mediterranean—her ancestral backyard—passing it on through modern day stories from European cafes.
A world of history
Stories flowing from past to present.

The desire was growing
A longing
To know the world, to interact, to share stories together.
To be a lifelong learner.

Like that day up in the Tibetan mountains, running along the grass plains next to the yaks. Millennia upon millennia of history that I hadn’t read about in school.

School
So far beyond the books and beyond the tests
Which, at best, make us robots and numbers,
And always make me cringe.
I don’t value them. I value you, your story, you, just you, without the numbers, letters or titles.

They were many, the days in the classrooms, often grey and fog-tinged, when those of us with restless bodies longed to stretch out into the world, to go beyond.

To stand up and read
The world
Like a book full of vibrant life, dangerously real.
Adventures to be had, sights to walk and stories to experience.
Life dug up like archeological fragments, shared history.

And I find myself longing for more.
Out on some grassy hill looking to sea
Or beyond a mountain peak
Knowing that I learned what I loved.

And I loved to learn.

 

Words & Photo (of a friend’s bookshelf) by Jonathan McCallum

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Life Unfolded

Life Unfolded
Beauty I hold
A child
Behold!

I too
A child
Once held
In arms was told
To gather hope, to love to wonder, to unfold
Into bright sun-flamed delight.

One day
I met you,
You who hold
Eternity in the twinkling
And the sun and all delight in your hand.

You
A child
Held in arms
Gathering hope,
Unfolding a time
For majesty, found in poverty
For power, found in meekness
For forgiveness, found in the friendship of a peace prince

There
Held
I found a friend in a reigning King,
Wonder, love
In a hero to behold.
Hope gathered
Life unfolded.

By Jonathan McCallum

Star Ablaze

A stable birth,
Red, messy, wet, naked,
Star ablaze.
In Palestine, the West Bank.
Through warmth and pain, the earth may rejoice
Your birth,
Peace arrived in the fragile newborn.

A dangerous unarmed rabbi-to-be,
Ready to overturn empires, overrule kings, cast off any allegiance to the world-of-just-now.
Bearing a kingdom of hope, of living the moment, of eternal love.
Not arriving from above, but from within, a teenage Miriam, a womb for a while.

Heart-yearn for abundance and free,
Some abide on shore of the love-filled ocean.
We find shelter and learn to swim in the waves of your kindness
That will never stop, never cease caring for us.

By Jonathan McCallum

Man of Peace

Hills of Tyre, Southern Lebanon
Further along the coast, over the hills, there is a closed border.
A border you walk through, man of peace.

You healed her daughter in these hills,
Persistent trust exchanged for a miracle.

Now, nearby the ancient port where cedar trees were floated to Solomon,
In the souk, I thought I caught a glimpse of you.
Beside you an Arabic speaking man, on the other side a Hebrew speaking man.

You, the one who speaks all languages and, above all, love.
Reuniting Arab and Israeli, even when they mockingly say it can’t be done.
You walk a different path, helping weapons gather rust, clog up with dust,
The streams flow, vineyards grow.
Life with you, life anew.

By Jonathan McCallum
Photos & thoughts about my time in Tyre, Lebanon here: http://www.jonathanmccallum.com/2014/11/21/harbouring-peace/

Depth of Nature

The sea like silken water with its triangular-peaked hills rising in front of me, neither relaxed or in a hurry, flows at a speed I wanted to experience.  I paddled frantically, and suddenly, in a breath, the sensation changed from a pulling through the water to a force pushing onto the azul cliff crest. Then there was the perfect rush down, the fall, a thunder of water behind, a liquid slicing turn along  green-blue scenery, a coal-less steam-powered train ride, the only energy nature’s.

In that breath, that ride, I remember that I too am part of this flowing life, and I shout out, thankful, singing, a prayer from within.  Air rushes past, nothing else can matter, my body and mind are consumed by a few seconds.  A delicious sensation, even the salty taste and scent as I inhale, smiling.

Seaside, I walk up the beach in adoration of nature.  My soul feels like my body felt, like a rock being momentarily launched, skimmed over something deep and alive.  And at the end of the ride, at the end of the moment, I sink into that which I love so much.

By Jonathan McCallum