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Shamms Mortier Remembered


Published May 23, 2008 at 4:13 p.m.

Today I learned that an old friend, Shamms Mortier, died 5/22 at 3:30 pm.

Shamms was the kind of bodhisattva that laughed and played tricks. He was an avant-garde jazz musician, writer and visual artist — but his biggest impact on the community may have come from his three decades of teaching at Burlington College, and CCV. Below is a statement he had sent to fellow instructors last April. It seems worth sharing, as to Shamms, everyone was a teacher, and everyone was a student.

“How honored I have been in these last three-plus decades to be in the sacred classroom with you. You have given me more, taught me more, than you will ever know. All narratives must eventually reach their final chapter, and this is true for all of us as well. Would that it were not so, I would elect to keep teaching and learning forever; and perhaps that is what happens anyway in the great and enduring mystery to come. I would ask all of you to keep focused upon three things. First, be creative!  That means risking doing things that are just out of reach. Push yourself to climb mountains.  Second, or maybe first, be compassionate. Realize that extending a helping hand is the heart of humanity, and without heart, no blood flows. Third, be conscious! Wake up! Be aware of your world and your life. I send you much love."

— Shamms... April 21, 2008