Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Teachers Day


(Nature is the Best Teacher. My awesome friend on Twitter, @ksekher, permitted me to use this photograph he took from his stunning collection of the Grand Canyon landscapes.)

Happy Teachers Day to all

Today is a day that we are cherishing our days in school and perhaps remembering the teachers who truly contributed to the full fledged individuals we are now.

While in school, it didn't hold any significance for me because I didn't really have teachers who cared deeply enough to make a lasting impression. They had their favorites, which can be quite demotivating for the other students who don't make it to the top list.

However, that doesn't mean I don't value the teachers who taught me. I do. I also believe that we are constantly learning good, insightful things from people around us, from the little things they say and do.

Having said this, I want to thank a really important teacher in my life because she didn't teach me these things from a classroom. Today seems like a perfect day to pay tribute to her memory.

Sister Illumina


Its hard to talk about this once beautiful Dominican German nun without remembering her unconditional love to all her students. Her twinkling eyes and beautiful smile still remain with me though she passed away many years ago. She was beautiful and full of love.

Beyond the History classes she taught us while I was studying in Africa, she was my best friend, my guide, my everything. She taught me to love the Lord, no matter what the form. We had endless discussions on Krishna, Christ and Baba. We loved sharing our crazy thoughts with each other.

I was amazed to meet such a beautiful nun. I remember asking her why she chose to be a nun. I knew she missed her father's farm in Germany. I also knew she loved a young, handsome man who had even proposed to her.

Sister Illumina told me, "I loved that young man but I loved Jesus more. If it was a choice between the best of husbands, there could be only one winner and thats Jesus. He owned my heart."

The way she said it, it sprang from love than devotion or religious fervor. She truly believed Jesus to be the love of her life. Not God, not son of God but her love. I've never met a more love-filled nun. She would celebrate her wedding anniversary with Jesus in a grand way even though the Church dissapproved of her ways and warned her to 'behave.'

She did so many things. She used to farm with the African kids. She would sing love songs. She would give counseling to African AIDS patients. She lend her love to unwed, pregnant teens. She did not see the world in black and white. She simply loved everyone. She had a huge crush on our Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and used to say, "If I had met that handsome Prince, I would have proposed to him."

I think I was blessed that she loved me like a mother and always told me she would be watching over me even if she was gone. She was always there for me. She taught me to believe in the voice of God, guiding me always. She told me to trust the Lord and love others no matter how they seemed outside. Its amazing but I've never met a true Christian like her. I believe she was very special to Jesus. I think Jesus was lucky to have some one who loved him with such purity and unwavering love.

When I left Africa, she wrote to me month after month. She sent me photos of the places she traveled to. I always waited eagerly for her letters. Those were the times when the Internet had not even caught on. When the letters stopped reaching me, I knew. She had gone.

I miss her terribly but I've never cried for her because I believe she is happier being with Jesus and I want her to stay there in her world. Today, after many years, I hold her memory close to my heart and just hope that she knows I remember and value the good times we had together.

Happy Teachers Day.

13 comments:

ssstoryteller said...

Your are truly lucky to have seen such love, shared such love and cherish such love...I believe such people help us find ourselves...lovely piece of writing..

Uma said...

Consider yourself lucky! Not many people are fortunate to share this kind of relationship with a teacher. Most of the teachers in our kind of education system don't motivate you thus.

Petty Witter said...

I have such mixed feelings about Teachers Day - in principle I think it's a lovely idea but here in England it has become too commercial with cards, teddy bears, mugs etc, etc available to buy. I know it cost my sister a fortune, with 2 liitle ones she felt pressurisised into buying a card and a gift for the teacher AND the teaching assistant. What is wrong with our just saying thank you to our teachers?

chitra said...

Nice to know that you too had a wonderful fun loving teacher. I too studied in a convent and I haven't come across any one like this. You can cherish these beautiful thoughts in your heart for ever.

somehow I missed this post yesterday.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

@Storyteller: Thanks very much. You are right. Wonderful, selfless people enable us to find our true selves.

@Uma: Thanks so much, Uma. Yes, I do believe it is God's grace to have met a soul as evolved as Sister Illumina's. I also agree that the teachers in our kind of education system do not really motivate us.

@Chitra: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chitra. Yes, there are very few people in the world like Sister Illumina. I too have never met another person like her. God bless her soul.

@Petty: Thank you so much for sharing your anxiety and mixed feelings on this forum. In India too, there is a lot of commercialism happening but not to the extent that parents feel pressurised.

Teaching our kids to say thank you with love and respect to their teachers is definitely more invaluable than buying a card. It doesnt seem fair that parents are pressurized to spend like that when the Recession is on around the world.

I wish I could say something meaningful to help your sister but let me just pray for her that things change for the better.

I appreciate you sharing this with me and I definitely hope your sister finds a way out of that pressure spot she is in right now. All the best.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

What beautiful memories! And that too of such a beautiful woman whom you so obvioulsy cherish.

Yes, she is fianlly one with her Lord, the Lord she loved with all the purity of her being, and she has earned her eternal bliss.

You were indeed blessed to have had this warm, gentle, caring and humourous spirit in your life.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Yes, thats true. Thank you so much.

Blushing hostess said...

I am the only non-teacher in my own family! My fingers are crossed for them today! Great mention...

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Great to hear that. Thanks!

lakshmi said...

You're truly lucky to have had such a bond with a teacher. Nicely captured.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Yes, Lakshmi, you are right. It was a beautiful bond.

Readers Dais said...

Your bond with her is very portrayed thru ur words and its such a wonderful feeling to know about such relations which we seldom find nowadays..As we say in kerala nuns are - karthavinte manavatty - let her soul rest in peace along with her love in the world above, praying for such a kind soul who could leave a mark on earth through her deeds.

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