Monday, August 20, 2012

A Small Death

The end of summer is a small death.  As it draws near, inevitable regrets hover about me.    Did I waste my time?  Why didn't I do more, travel more?  I should have finished that project.  I should have gone to the beach again.  I thought I had more time.  I can still fit in one more fling.  I want to be prepared for the end.  I want to say my goodbyes.

As these thoughts gathered in my brain this morning, I wondered.  If I feel this way at the end of summer, is it a taste of how I will feel at the end of life?  I reminded myself that my life isn't over.  It's just going to change.  The end of summer brings new things to anticipate, new adventures.  Perhaps that, too, is true for death.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Time for Prayer and Faith

Today I learned that a former 3rd grade student of mine, now about to enter high school I think, has hit a really rough patch and gone down a dark and dangerous path.  This breaks my heart.  In my mind, I still see the beautiful, sweet-souled young man I knew and I wonder how he went so wrong (though I know enough about his life to guess at the contributing factors).

photo from
It is moments like these when some notion of prayer and faith can really help.  I don't know how to get in touch with this kiddo, and even if I did, he's not a 3rd grader anymore and I don't know what I'd say.  Something like this, maybe:  "Don't forget - you have a beautiful soul.  You can get back on track.  You can't control the crummy stuff in your life but you can control your choices.  There is room in this world for sensitive souls."  I don't know if it would make any difference.

I carry this ridiculously hopeful wish that when my students leave my classroom and get older and go out into the world, they carry something from my class with them that could make the difference in what paths they follow later.  What I heard about this former student today reminded me that far too often, those future paths go through some really dark places.  And their year with me is one small part of a long and complex journey.

Teaching is an act of faith, the faith that a thousand small acts throughout the course of 170 days or so in an 8 year old's life will leave an impression and make a difference.

As for the role of prayer in a situation like this, since I cannot see or talk to this young man and I feel so powerless, I choose to have faith that the energy I put into prayer for him and his future might have the power to sway things in some small way.  It certainly cannot hurt.  And the air around us is filled with invisible energies that have concrete power - sound waves, light waves, digitized data.  Why shouldn't prayer be one way to harness the power of invisible energies within our own brains?