Decades ago, when I was in the 8th grade, our English teacher, Lois Josephs, led me and my classmates out to the meadow behind our school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We brought with us notebook, pen, and youthful curiosity. “Find a spot that interests you,” she said, “and look at it closely for twenty minutes. Take a few notes, but mostly let yourself discover what you didn’t know was there. Pretend you are seeing what’s in front of you for the first time. Stay open to surprise.”
That instruction has served me well for the next sixty years. My writing vocation, my teaching life and my spiritual practice have followed the single thread which Mrs. Josephs offered as an “exercise.” Stay open to surprise. Pretend you are seeing what’s in front of you for the first time. Those words have became a lifetime’s guidance, a support in times of pain, a challenge to wake up when I am asleep, and a sacred summons to meet things as they truly are, in all their difficulty and beauty.
— Joyce Reiser Kornblatt