Sunday, May 24, 2020

On a Day of Memory


On a Day of Memory

Blessed are those who mourn
those charged an awful price
who grieve still and always
who are able to fully remember
and even now weep weary in that remembering

Careful are those who mourn
careful to balance ideologies --
the obligatory pride in nation
with the seething anger at the mechanism --
in order to keep their souls intact

Envied are those who mourn
envied by many guilt-laden survivors
who carry their own deliverance as a cross
who wish to impart to those grieving
the peace they themselves cannot seem to find

Carried are those who mourn
hoisted high as names on street signs and monuments
on prayers and quivering petitions
on the lips of their legacy
in the energy of a Creation that erects Ebenezers

In each morning of new mercies,
kept and cradled be all those who mourn



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

For Teachers . . . Thank You


A few years ago, a woman I barely know (whose children are not a part of our local public school system) asked me nonchalantly  if our high school is “as HORRIBLE as I’ve heard”.  

Ok, see I have a loyalty bone that is connected directly to whatever part of my brain creates the anger monster, so I did not respond too well in the moment. I mean, hey, that’s my kids’ school! It felt like a question born out of ignorance, privilege and idealism. I wish I had had the wherewithal at that moment to take a breath and answer more thoughtfully, because here is what I would like to say if she were to ask me that question today:

Of course our school has problems, just as every school, business, organization and family, for that matter, has problems. Think about it:  Our school is an ever-changing organism composed of administration and teachers struggling to reach and teach the personalities of several thousand young human beings all at once. Wild and wondering human beings whose frontal lobes are not yet fully formed. Human beings with a million different personalities and bents and backgrounds and learning styles and combinations thereof.

These educators are dealing with adult-sized children who are all trying to figure life out in a thousand different ways, and most of them have no clue how vital this education will be to improving their futures. Nevermind that some of them walk into the school setting out of an unimaginably painful home life, mounting a desperate (unrecognized) search for meaning and purpose and love.

So, yeah, I’m sure sometimes that can get a little sticky and make a day “horrible” at our high school.

However, what I have myself witnessed in this “horrible” environment might also just blow your mind. Teachers often giving up their evenings to come watch my kids (“their kids”) in a loooong play or musical. And they are genuinely proud of them. Paraprofessionals forming strong bonds with kids and their families to support them even outside the school environment. Dedicated admin, directors, coaches all strategizing programs to best fit the community struggles these future world-builders, their students, are facing. Teachers reaching into their own often-shallow pockets to provide necessary tools for a young life whose potential has not yet been self-actualized. They are giving their time, energy and heart to believe in our kids.

Recently, I have heard from teachers who are brokenhearted at this sudden disconnect with their classes. They just miss them. I hear teachers tell how they sometimes find themselves in tears because they can’t seem to get some of their students, the ones who need connection the most, to connect through the online methods and continue their education during this difficult season. And it’s not because these teachers are worried about a bad score on a standardized test stealing their job from them (Those tests have died a rightful death this year. Thank you, Lord!). It’s because they worry that next year, when things do return to some sort of normal procedure, these precious souls will find themselves even further behind in their learning and will want to give up.

Yes, community is a messy and sometimes “horrible” thing, I guess. Sometimes it’s downright terrifying. And it is a constant, dizzying process to try and make things better. But let’s recognize what kind of fight our educators go up against every day. I’m so thankful God put it in the hearts of a select few of His creations to desire this battle. We, as a society, need them more than we know.

At the end of the day, these teachers are human, just like you, with worries and families and struggles and weaknesses. And, no, we won’t always agree on tactics, practices and plans, but I can tell you that they are doing their best to build something beautiful in their classrooms and in relationship with these kids and in our collective future.

I’m glad to stand close by and cheer them on.