An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Sometimes a Man Stands Up

In Education, Food & Cooking on February 21, 2013 at 7:43 am


Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.”
―    Rainer Maria Rilke

Please feel free to share reflections…

  1. Shabana Basij-Rasikh recently gave a moving TEDtalk titled “Dare to Educate Afghan Girls”. She makes a very interesting point which she feels is not emphasised by the West; the role of the father in the education of women in Afghanistan. Her father must have stood up when he decided that he would sell his blood if needed to educate her daughter and challenged the status quo. It doesn’t surprise me that he himself received an education. Maybe more importantly, how her family see education as fundamental to what makes us human. I feel this paradigm is often missed in many parts of the world, where education is limited to grades and getting into a good university.

    Robert Bly will most possibly classify this as a men’s poem. Some may see it in terms of ‘family/political’ patriarchy. However, patriarchy in the deeper sense of the word, patriarchy of the soul, (just like the deeper sense of the feminine) is often missed by those who attack patriarchy – often in the name of feminism.

    This poem speaks to me about the interrelationship of tarbeyah (upbringing) on the practical and spiritual level. By forgetting or neglecting the spiritual in us, we affect the inner ecology in our children. The missing father may not just be a father who has completely abandoned his family, but in this case the one who is at home and not present in his family’s life. The dining table scene from American Beauty illustrates this well for me. Kevin Spacey stands up and finally moves from being a passive male to an active one, or moves from being ‘a missing father’ to one who is present in the family. So when he finally takes his seat, he sits as a father and not simply as somebody filling a seat at the dinner table. Maybe this applies on the collective too. Societies have lost and are yearning for their father. Somebody once said to Oprah “you are our mother” echoing a collective need.

    The poem also reminds me of the companions of the Prophet pbuh and how active they were in their faith. When I reflect on the times they lived in and what they achieved in their lives by living for a higher purpose then self-interest, it never seizes to amaze me. To name a few; Zaid ibn Harith (ra adopted son of the Prophet buried in Jordan), Muad ibn Jabal –known for his inquisitive mind and deep learning sent to Yemen by the Prophet pbuh. (Jordan), Ayub Ansari (Turkey), Salman al- Farsi (travels from Iran)

  2. I love the connection to Arabic roots QWM – this has shed light on standing posture in prayer for me and how our relationship with the Divine is necassry in knowing ourselves and living with a higher purpose:

    “And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.” 59:19

    Thank you for also clarifying the masculine role here and the historical context of the poem. The last part of them poem is also v interesting as it speaks of the effect on a man’s family if he forgets to answer this call.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: