RABBI: teacher

I will teach you and instruct you in the way in which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Psalm 32:8

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

To the house of the God of Jacob,

That He may teach us concerning His ways,

And that we may walk in His paths.

Isaiah 2:3

The Meaning of His Name:

I have always been terribly forgetful. I forget where I put my keys, what I did with my jacket, where I parked my car. When I was a little girl I forgot my homework, my library book, my gym clothes, my lunch.

My mom (who forgets nothing) used to say, If your head wasn’t attached you’d forget that too! My big brother nicknamed me Dingbat-Di for all the times I got in trouble for forgetting again.

All that forgetfulness made school, to say the least, challenging. I was always borrowing pencils and lunch money. I don’t know how many times I stared at my teacher in horror and proclaimed total and complete ignorance of an assignment due that day.

It’s not that I didn’t want to do well; I loved the order of the classroom, the smell of the textbooks, the discovery of something new and unknown. It’s just that there was so much to remember and nothing seemed to stick in my head for long enough to grab hold and stay there.

Of all my teachers, Mrs. Brown was my favorite. Tall and slim with softly waving hair, she wore long flowing skirts cinched at the waist and funny half glasses with a chain around her neck.  Every day after lunch, she’d wait for us all to settle into our seats and quiet down.  Perched on her stool with all the poise of royalty, Mrs. Brown would quietly open a book and read us into new worlds.

Secret animal kingdoms with Wind in the Willows, Victorian England with Black Beauty, back country farms with Charlotte’s Web. I lost myself in her stories, relishing every detail, remembering every character, laughing and crying and hanging onto every word.

After school I’d run home and recount every detail to my mom over a plate of homemade cookies and milk. Names and places and descriptions and who said what to whom.

I forgot nothing.

And mom noticed. Maybe her little girl wasn’t so hopelessly forgetful after all.

Pretty soon my mom (ever the organized scheduler) had settled us into the routine of stopping by the library every week. She helped me find the books Mrs. Brown read to us and then she’d take me home and cuddle up with me on the couch and gently coach me through the words. While at school I painfully pushed myself to memorize flash cards of words (this was way before phonics), at home Mom slid her finger under sentences as she enveloped me in the stories.

At school I learned to read, but it was at home that I fell in love with learning.

(my mom and me)

There was a kindness in the way my mom taught me. As if she had all the time in the world to read it again and again. I remember the cadence of her voice, the feel of her crisply ironed blouse, the scent of her perfume, the press of her cheek against my head. Time slowed down to my pace and all the things I could never remember filled up and made sense and stuck tight.

And I think that’s how Jesus teaches too.

Slow and soft and gentle and easy. He pulls us up tight against His heart and runs His finger under what we’re supposed to know. Lets us linger a little so we can get it down deep. Listens while we say it back. Leads us to the edge of wonder and makes us feel safe there.

When Jesus taught His disciples He said the same things over and over again. He used stories from real life and asked strangely probing questions and let silence get comfortable. He compared people to sheep and mixed mud into medicine and made sure everyone saw everything He ever did.

Kinda like my mom.

And is it any wonder those guys followed Him right down to their deaths? Peter upside down on a cross, John all alone on an island, James with his head on a block.

Those men knew all about the Teacher. His truth slid past their ears right into their brains and on down into the very fabric of their lives.

His truth changed everything.

Sometimes I get mad at myself because, once I again I forget. I forget to be gentle, I forget to forgive, I forget to talk nice, I forget to trust. Over and over, it seems, I have to learn the same lessons.

And I keep waiting for Him to get frustrated with me, to slam down His fist and shout, enough!

And all He does is lift me onto His lap and hold me close and open the pages again.

As if He has all the time in the world to wait for me to get it right.

As if He knows I will

because He knows I want to

because He knows I can

as long as I stay all curled up close in His arms.

From a heart that is learning in the lap of the Rabbi,


Make me to know Thy ways, O LORD;

Teach me Thy paths.

Lead me in truth and teach me.

Psalm 25