At church tonight we had a wonderful guest preacher. he spoke on the well known story about Jesus telling the fishermen to put down their nets and follow him. He told us that in jewish culture, boys attended hebrew school in levels. 1st they memorized the torah, if they did well they went on to memorize the rest of scripture and finally those who were successful were sent out into the community to find a rabbi who would disciple them. The rest were sent home to learn the family trade. The "b team" if you will.
What was really intriguing to me was that the young men who were chosen to learn from the rabbi followed so closely that they were said to be covered in the dust if the rabbi. It became a complement, a sign of commitment and zeal. In order to learn how to be a rabbi the students would practically cling to his robes, their goal was glean as much knowledge as they could from him.
The sermon got me thinking so I did some reading this evening on the saying "may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi" .
I had always heard rabbi translated as teacher, one article I read stated that, "These teachers were called “sages” before 70 AD (hakamim, or “the wise”). After that the title “rabbi” began to be used."
Sages...Hold up... Did you know that another word for midwife is sage-femme?
Hang with me on this for a minute.
Midwifery is a skill best learned by the apprenticeship model, watching, and eventually doing along side someone (or many someones) who has experience. A teacher, a sage-femme, a wise mentor.
Let's connect this back to the story of the fishermen. Jesus was always hanging out with the outcasts of society, so it doesn't come as a surprise that he called out to the fishermen, the ones who didn't make the cut back in Hebrew school. Even though i know i have been called to be a midwife, and can't imagine doing anything else, I know I am not the greatest student. I make a ton of mistakes, I am quiet, I tend to step back because I am afraid of messing up. I am so blessed to have been welcomed into the practice of a wise and caring midwife that keeps me around despite my shortcomings. I am the "b team" chosen from right field and for that I am grateful.
This lenten season, as I add and subtract things from my life, in order to serve the Lord and live deeper into my calling. I can only hope that someday, someone will be able to say to me, that I am covered by the dust of my rabbi, in midwifery yes, but even more so I want to be covered in the dust of my Rabbi; My savior, creator of unique community, the one who loves me more than I will ever imagine.
(For more information check out: http://offqueue.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/dust_rabbi.pdf and http://ourrabbijesus.com/2012/01/27/covered-in-the-dust-of-your-rabbi-an-urban-legend/ )