“When the student is ready the master appears.”
Master Mary Ann Walsh first shared a message from a book written by Jeanne Gibbs during a circa 1984 seminar that she taught at the Phonecia Pathwork Center high in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State by handing out a piece of paper with the book excerpt printed on it.
Now mind you that participants in her seminar were all barefoot outdoors on a hillside in slippery grass wet with dew and we were all wearing dobahks which is not the optimal time or environment to receive printed materials that we need to pay attention to and keep up with, but regardless of those circumstances, she distributed her handout to everyone in attendance.
Kris Poole and I had traveled from Texas to New York for this event and by some miracle, the page she handed out managed to find its way back to my room at the camp and days later into my luggage and finally all the way back to Texas where it eventually retired in a nice, safe desk drawer at my studio office and lived there quietly and in obscurity until years later.
When I received the handout from Master Walsh during her seminar, I recall reading it quickly and sensing that the words had some special significance for her to be handing them out, but their importance eluded me and my understanding was not enough for me to take action on them at that time; however, a little voice in my head did keep telling me not to lose this piece of paper and to keep it. And that was about all I did.
Years later three mothers of students (two of them students themselves) came into my studio office and said they wanted to present the opportunity for Soo Bahk Do training for elementary age school kids to the local school board in an upcoming school board meeting that they planned to attend. Jo Ann Easley, Bobby Milstead and Donna Gentry requested literature from me that they could hand out describing our art and a free community service program that our studio in Henderson, Texas might offer to elementary age children. Sa Bom Nim Daymon Kenyon of San Diego, California had previously suggested a similar idea to me for connecting school kids with our art but I had been too busy to act upon it.
At the time they came to me I was very busy running my electronics company, traveling to multiple towns teaching Soo Bahk Do at multiple studios, flying all over the world to places like New York, England, Greece, Korea, taking care of my family and here were three mothers requesting a big block of my limited time to conceive a special program and design literature to describe it and print and prepare all the materials they would need for their presentation during the school board meeting.
I thought to myself that I did not need this extra demand on my time.
I was already stressed and time crunched and really did not feel that I had time to be helping them execute their idea. What would the flyer say? What would the offer be? What might the school board respond positively to? What could I afford for our studio to do for free as a community service? I did not feel that I had time to stop what I was doing and figure all this out for a project that I did not conceive and that was not in my schedule or my plans. I was a bit exasperated by their request.
Then I remembered that piece of paper that Master Walsh had handed out at her seminar years ago and I even managed to recall where it had retired to in my desk. I reasoned that since Master Walsh was a teacher and she had felt these words were important, then it seemed logical that other educators and teachers might also pay attention and give weight to them. However, I was mainly thinking that the best thing about her flyer was that I could just hand the paper to my students and tell them, “Use this” and get them on their way, so that I could get back to my work. And that is pretty much what I did.
I had no idea of the astounding, almost unbelievable events that would soon unfold as a result of handing that piece of paper to my students. No idea at all.
The wisdom Master Walsh had shared with us that day on that grassy hillside in the backwoods of New York state had sat quietly in my desk drawer all those years with its potential unrealized. It had waited patiently for the perfect convergence of circumstances to finally bring her lesson to life. Although the lesson had been shared with me years earlier, I had been unable to fully grasp its meaning until my students and their actions revealed the hidden potential that I had kept locked in my desk drawer.
It was mind boggling.
Something in those words and the spirit of my students presentation resonated so powerfully with school officials, teachers and parents, that what followed next was literally unbelievable.
After that piece of paper bearing Master Walsh's selected book excerpt was handed from me to my students in Texas, just as Master Walsh had handed it to me in New York, a few weeks passed and then on the very first day of the program that my students had goaded me into sponsoring, one-hundred-sixty-nine new students all appeared at our studio on the same night for their 1st class and then – and only then – did the master finally appear for this student.
Thank you Sa Bom Nim Walsh for touching hundreds of lives that would never have been touched by Soo Bahk Do were it not for your wisdom and the will of my students to take action on that piece of paper you handed out on that hillside.
Read the rest of the remarkable story here