Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The first thing we do...

"You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you."
— John O'Donohue
As all over America mothers, sisters, teachers, and friends go back into the world of thanksgiving, Christmas, dedication, and life...  we each throw ourselves into something we love.  For many, the day begins with hugging children a little closer and shutting our eyes in that silent, almost wordless-less-we-think-it plea:  God, please keep them safe...  And we wonder...  But why didn't He?  and then we shove that aside, knowing we mustn't wonder for long or we will Mark Twain ourselves out of the Garden of Eden and into that cynical world where no happiness, no trust, no joy can dwell...  And I wish, so wish...  that tragedy hadn't happened...  that time could erase and blot out something again so dreadful I don't know how those lives can possibly carry on...

For me, miles away in the Midwest, I slip into an old routine---  making my world as lovely as possible for myself and for anyone in the midst...  Back when I lived at home it seemed easier...  Now, let me just say it is fun (!) trying to convince my Mom to use good china!    

We had some lovely company on Saturday evening, and we all enjoyed the happy companionship of friends who have known each other for a long time, who understand, and who have seen each other through many stages of our lives.  That was good for the soul.

And here at school I am trying to do anything I can to help the students feel safe, happy, and hopeful.  It is amazing what happens to young people when tragedies strike.  Some get lippy...  some get quiet.  Some get incredibly apathetic.  Some just plod on with renewed dedication to do the right thing and get their work done with perfection.  

On 12/12/12...  I set my alarm on the SmartBoard for 12:12:12....  and I told my Spanish 1 students they could make a special wish when the "rooster" crowed...  You should have seen those tall, quiet, "scientific-minded" junior boys squint their eyes and make wishes...  Some of the girls texted (with permission) to their boyfriends to wish them a happy 12/12/12...  It was a mini festival.  I thought how odd we were--- celebrating something so totally one of a kind.  These students might or might not remember the day when they get older, but it's not like being able to say to their grandchildren, "Yep, I remember being in Spanish class when the old calendar turned 12/12..."  It was actually nothing.

What I found remarkable is the way students reached for the idea of being granted a wish...  Why are they so desperate to be told they can wish?  I even had one senior boy after school who was bemoaning the fact he didn't get granted a wish...  I, of course, told him he wasn't too late, and he immediately closed his eyes and thought a dream...  My son literally laughed me off the map on this one. "Mom," he huffed, "wishes are not something anyone believes in any more.  Don't be dumb.  Anyone knows wishes don't come true."  My mother pronounced me weird, and she shook her head wondering why I didn't ever decide to "grow up."  I felt happy...   I am nearly old enough to be eccentric...  so possible growing up won't be an option any longer (as if it ever has been with my kind.)

So Monday, yesterday, I cleaned off my desk, graded the 36 persuasive essays that I had procrastinated quite long enough, and lit a battery-operated tea light in my lantern on my school desk.  McDonald's Unsweet tea in a bluebird cup and Christmas lights glowing in the room...  we return to the shattered peace....  because we have to.  Life is too precious. 

Today computer keys click as students pore over semester writing portfolios...  A winter snowstorm looms in the forecast for tomorrow night.  I secretly (and publicly) cheer on the advent of Christmas vacation and its two solid weeks of recuperative time to focus and dream...  and yeah,  I wish....

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