This week, I faced these questions as I struggled to help my third graders, many of whom live across the street from Clackamas Town Center and saw the police cars and heard the sirens, some of whom had family members at the mall, all of whom had their sense of security in the world violated. And then on Friday at lunchtime came the news from Connecticut, where personal connections left me anxious and terrified while striving to be present for my students, who were still mercifully unaware of this latest horror and who, when they heard it, would no doubt be shaken all over again. "How can I be present for them when I feel so fragile myself?" I thought. And the voices of great teachers I have known said, "One small good thing at a time."
If healing can happen, that's how it happens. One small good thing at a time. Every act, no matter how small, can be sacred. The act of unlocking my classroom door or setting up the daily order of the room. The act of drawing a line in pencil on plain white paper. The act of painting in watercolors. The act of sitting together in a circle and greeting one another. The choice of questions and stretches and community building conversations. "If you could be a superhero, which one would you be?" I asked them. "Would you rather snuggle with a cat or play with a dog?" "Name a safe place or person, real or imaginary." "Pretend you are a strong and powerful creature. Show me what you would look like." One small good thing at a time. One tiny sliver of strength or safety or joy placed onto another to fill the cracks and rebuild what's been destroyed. A laugh. An extra moment to listen. A kind word. A gentle and patient response to a distracted soul. The act of putting one foot in front of the other to continue the daily expression of faith in the future that is the education of young children. One small, good thing at a time.
I know there are others who can only see healing happening through great and sweeping changes, through policy and laws. I honor them and their fight. But I also know the universe works both in the macro and in the micro, and I believe we must recognize the sacred role of small acts for the ground to be fertile enough to allow the grand changes to take root.