Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Accept the Deep: A Tribute to Mrs. Runkel

Teachers are the unsung heroes of this world.  They practically raise some of us, and get little to no credit for it.  They fill our young minds with thoughts and ideas that we, in turn, plagiarize as our own. 
I'm pretty sure most of the teachers I had in high school entertained a love/hate relationship with me.
Love because, not to steal too much from Adele here, but,
Hello?  It's me.

Hate because, bless.  My brain would show these tiny glimmers of hope, but either my utter laziness or my actual brain would fail me in hopes of making an A.  So, naturally, I begged for extra credit at the end of the semester instead of applying myself in other regularly assigned assignments.  As a teenager I found these educators to be rude and misunderstanding of my really hard life.  However, adulting has shown me I was rude, and they typically understood me quite well.
Eesh. Sorry about that, guys.
ANYWAY, one teacher that put up with my shenanigans was my English teacher senior year, Mrs. Runkel.  If you've been here 4.5 seconds you know grammar and I are, well, friendly, but not super close.  I love to write, but I love to write how I talk- which is not grammatically correct in any way shape or form.
Mrs. Runkel worked to help me grow closer with grammar.  That's a cute way of saying I got a lot of papers back with lots of red on them.
Bless her heart.
She tried.  She really did.
In response I tried.  I really did.  Well, sort of.  No, not really.
I was a senior in high school and just wanted to graduate...so basically...no I didn't try.
I did love Mrs. Runkel, though.  She was kind, yet held her boundaries.
She loved us, her students, but definitely did not put up with our crap.
I couldn't appreciate this at the time, but I see now that she worked to breathe life into our work as students as well as work as humans.  There were a handful of times that I came to her with questions about things going on in my life, and she was brilliant.  Her advice was consistent:
Know yourself, and stand firm in your truth.
As a seventeen year old, lost in the fantasy of life, that went right over my head.  I had no idea what she was saying to me.  Now I see how she was one of my first great mentors, even thought I flippantly regarded our relationship at the time.

Mrs. Runkel and I have spoken here and there since I graduated from high school.  Throughout this time I know that she has dealt with the dealings that life throws at you:
Illness, parenting, life, and more life.
I have stood on the shore of her life, watching her wade in her own deep, only to see the ripples of grace, love, and truth lapping up at my feet on the shore.
I have watched as countless people have offered their love and support to her and her family.  I have watched as she continues to make an imprint on other hearts, while cherishing the imprint she left on mine.
From where I stand, all I can see is Mrs. Runkel accepting what has been given to her.

Acceptance is a tricky thing.  So often I find myself treading in my own deep only to see the sharks circling, and the depth of the unknown below me.
This scares me.
I want to be in control.  I want to make sure my life is mine, and no one else's.  I want to force my will upon my life to ensure the end result is just how I want it.
This rarely works.
I usually end up feeling like I'm drowning- because I am.
When I hold tight to all the things that I love the most, I usually end up suffocating or crushing them.
It is not until I open myself to the alternative possibilities that life may hold that I find new breath, new truth, and new facets of myself. 

My most favorite people have left the shores of their own hearts to travel into the depths of their own oceans.  They work had to know their own mystery so they can live to tell their own tale.  This has to come with great bravery; to squarely look at oneself is quite a humbling act.  However, time and time gain I watch as my favorite people go further out, but do not drown.  I cannot help but notice a theme to their inability to succumb to their own heart and circumstance.  As they wade deeper still, it appears to me, again on the shore, that they continually grow in their ability to accept and love the water they tread.
Mrs. Runkel is one of those people.
So, thank you, Mrs. Runkel for teaching me that "except" and "accept" are two totally different words.  Thank you for teaching me more than just English.  Thank you for being so brave in accepting your own life.  Thank you for encouraging others to do the same.
Thank you.
I am forever indebted to you.

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