Gratitude To The Unknown Instructors

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.


Musashi Miyamoto

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…


Sally Schneider

…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.

2 Responses to Gratitude To The Unknown Instructors

  1. Ellen Rocco 10.02.2017 at 8:02am #

    This is a lovely post. As an “actual” teacher (now retired), I know well what others can teach us even when we are in the formal role of teacher. My classes were for “special ed” kids who were in my class because though of “average or above intelligence”, they had such serious behavior problems that they couldn’t be in a regular classroom setting. Over the 10 years I taught in that setting, I know I learned more from some of them and their parents than I could possible have taught them.

  2. Sally Schneider 10.03.2017 at 3:55pm #

    Ah. Love your comment. A really beautiful example. Thank you.

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