At random, we opened The Enlightened Heart, An Anthology of Sacred Poetry to William Butler Yeats’ poem Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors:
WHAT they undertook to do
They brought to pass;
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.
It got us thinking about all the teachers we’ve had who never called themselves that, or even thought of themselves that way, or random conversations with strangers that shifted our view in a moment…
(We read Yeats’ poem to a friend and he told of us of the Tzadiks, humble, righteous, wise, quietly powerful persons. The Talmud says that at least 36 Tzadikim are living anonymously among us in all times; it is because of them that the world is not destroyed.)
We think of all the books that have given us their quiet instruction, often unexpectedly…
…and Nature, offering wisdom if we LOOK…
…as does art. Magritte’s own commentary on his mysterious painting, The Son of Man, speaks to this “thing that happens constantly”:
At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.
As we navigate the world, it is heartening to remember that “unknown instructors” are among us. And that we could be crossing paths with one at any moment, as we go about our day.