Curious what it means to be a Repair the World fellow? Here, current Detroit fellow, Craig Isser talks about his work as an educator to bring this season’s theme of thankfulness into the rest of the year.
As American educators teach their students how and why we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, the theme of thankfulness is stressed beyond the festive day’s name alone. We discuss thankfulness in history class, in literature, in art as we trace our hands, and then of course on Thanksgiving Day as we sit assembled around the dinner table.
My hope is that these repeated sentiments of thankfulness can help guide all of those who celebrate the day of Thanksgiving. It is easy to set time aside to be thankful when our government and calendars have commanded it already. What’s more difficult, and more important, is to allow the values of Thanksgiving weekend to continue on and on for the rest of the year.
When I teach children, I repeat directions and instructions to a point of excess so that everyone knows what’s needed to be done. The rules become second nature. They are not simply some commandments from the mouth of the teacher, but just the system of the classroom. I think it is always extremely important to understand why we follow rules, to even question them in some circumstances, but when they become constructive rituals that help our lives, there is beauty there.
I want thankfulness to be a rule in my life. I want it to blossom into ritual that shapes and guides my perspective and views. Working with Repair the World, I am often challenged to do a lot of reflection, which is a great venue to implement thankfulness. Whether we are guiding young people in service projects, or just communicating within our group about our work, we employ mindfulness and reflection, and can easily incorporate gratitude and thankfulness. Still, I hope to do more independently. I have found that there is a special kind of spiritual level that I reach when I seek a connection to mindfulness on my own. I want to carve out a time of my day where I stop to meditate on what I have received from the world that makes me thankful. I want my ritual to persist and I must hold myself accountable so that it gets done. Thankfulness will repeat over and over in my life; it will persist and it will guide me beyond the season of turkeys.