She sent me a quote by email. Off her Starbucks cup.
"Mother-love is not inevitable. The good mother is a great artist ever creating beauty out of chaos." -- Alice Randall, novelist
She is always sending me beautiful, challenging or spiritually saturated quotes, articles or ideas when she is away. When she is here, I get them in person. She leads me on softly spoken, visual journeys that reveal the inner me. The troubled inner me and the potential inner me. She is someone so rational that her words always make sense. She is someone so radical that often I am hesitant to let myself flow to where she is until I can play with the idea for a while to become comfortable with it.
I imagine her in ancient days as sitting on a hill with many eager, hungry, forgotten women eating up the morsels of wisdom and learning that she freely hands to them.
So when I call her my teacher, I do not think that name holds enough weight in American culture. In the Indian traditions, "teacher" is a holy word. It is what the word guru means and guru has a much more specific and visual meaning attached to it. But guru also means a Buddhist or Hindu teacher and I do not want to change its most ancient meaning.
The Hebrew for teacher is rabbi. She has never told me she was a rabbi and since a rabbi is an academic title as much as it is its meaning, that does not work for me. I found an obscure meaning for rebbetzin which means a female Hebrew teacher and she is actually the classic meaning we think of--she is the wife of a rabbi. But she is too large to me to be defined in terms of her husband's career and academic accomplishments.
In Jewish tradition, I can find only words like "spiritual teacher." And although she is that, anyone can be a spiritual teacher per say and there are a lot of people out there claiming to be just that. I need a bigger word--not everyone can be her. There is something special and renowned about here.
Sage comes really close. It means "a male mentor in spiritual and philosophical topics who is renowned for profound wisdom." Although that fits the best, I would feel odd saying, "My sage..." For some reason, it doesn't quite work.
So I have no title for her. Just know that when I say, "My teacher, Carol Rose," I mean much more by it than her title implies.