Sometimes I have a hard time engaging Scripture so I make myself do something that I made my 9th graders do with EOC questions. To make sure that they really understand what they're reading, I have them put them in their own words. Lately I have been doing likewise, only instead of questions, I'll put the Bible into my own words. It's like the message, Emily version.
Here's the New King James Version of Isaiah 58: 10-12
If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
And here's my paraphrase
If you offer your life-breath to those who need food, And make complete one's tortured being, Then you will be like the sun, And your night will be the same.
God will always be ahead of you And make complete all of you in dry times, And make your bones enough;
You shall by like an irrigated oasis, And like a fountain of water, whose waters will not run out.
Everyone who is near you will raise up the ancient forgotten places; You will create the groundwork for many to come; And you will be renamed the Healer of wounds, The Reclaimer of Paths to Travel.
And from all that, I wonder now what it means to extend your very soul to people. It sounds a little painful, and as though you'd be laid bare. I'll keep pondering this, but now to bed.
Today one of my African American student told me that he didn't think white people were ever the target of racism. I don't understand why they can't see that hate doesn't have boundaries. People never need an excuse to dislike someone, and color of skin is just a really convenient factor.
Here's something that makes me tear up because it is such a beautiful picture of the heart of God: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
Often times I share struggles on this blog, but today I would like to share five victories.
1. 88% of my 10th grade classes passed the NC writing test!
2. In class yesterday, A. was pretty rude to me and frustrated me greatly. I am pretty patient and I love this kid, but he gets pretty whiny when he feel overwhelmed, and sometimes he turns on me. Today he told me that he wanted to talk to me, so I stepped aside with him, unsure of what I would hear. And then he apologized to me for Monday. I was so impressed and touched because no one ever apologizes to how they treat me, or how they talk to me. What a sweetheart. His Mom deserves props.
3. Friday I was really worried about M. because he was really sick, I couldn't tell what was wrong, and he wouldn't let me help him. I called his Mom because I was so worried. I didn't know how this would be received by this student because I don't ever quite know what to expect from him on a daily basis anyways. This was a good decision for me because for the past two days he has told the class how much I must love him because I called his house to make sure he was okay. (:
4. I have a few students that aren't my own, but that are so lovely as to grace me with their presence from time to time. One of these special children is R. who came in the other day after he got his permit to show me it. Today he ran into my classroom after his English class to show me how he passed his writing test with a three. He was so proud, and I was glad he shared the moment with me.
5. I have one student in my 9th grade English class who is a superstar when it comes to my class. I feel so sorry for her because it's her first time in the class and she works really hard - unlike the rest of the class. She has a really hard time with some EOC questions because English isn't her first language and so she tends to miss the questions that have you matching words with possible definitions. I had the idea to give her a list of prefixes, suffixes, and root words. She seemed eager to learn them, and hopefully they will help her. Win.
And now, at the late hour of 8:21, I am going to bed.
I have this strange juxtaposition that has perched on my heart of wanting summer so fiercely, and wishing that this school year would never end because today I have this wild, unexplainable love for both teaching and my students.
currently listening to: When Your Mind's Made Up, Glen Hansard and Markita Irglova
Today in 6th period, one of my kids came in to class. Normally he’s running around, and chatting with people, causing general mayhem. Today he was white as a sheet. His eyes were barely open. He looked terrible, and I was really worried. I passed out the quizzes and when I gave him his, I asked him if he wanted to take it later. He told me that he didn’t want to, so I said he could try it later. A few minutes later he got mad at me, and wanted to know why I took his quiz before he was done. I gave it back to him, but then he put his head down. I had told him he could. I went over to see if I could help him, but he got mad at me part two. I don’t know if he was high or sick, or what but the whole time I was teaching I could only be concerned. I had this terrible pit of fear in my stomach because I didn't know what was wrong, and there was nothing I could do.
After school I called his Mom to tell her that he was sick.
And then I thought about it and realized how much I love my students. How I would do anything to help them if they would let me. Today M. wouldn’t let me help him, instead he got angry and told me that he just wanted to be left alone and that I always sneered at him when I got upset. I was only acting out of genuine concern. And I realized the difficulty with loving people: it’s scary to really care about people because you can’t control them. All you can control is yourself but when you love someone with God’s heart, you don’t choose to love them, you just do.
I just hope the kid’s okay. And on Monday I’ll care for him the same as if he hadn’t snapped at me. My job is to love my students, regardless of whether they are ever kind or respectful back.
Today was terrrribbleeee! I can say that now with a smile because I am safely in my bed with my cat.
What got me though, amongst all the downers of today was a gift placed on my desk in 2nd period. I had almost forgotten it.
The card read, "Thanks for everything. I had a great year. I'll make sure to try and stop by next year when I'm in college. I saw this and thought you'd love it to pieces. Also red is a good color for you, so enjoy. You're one in a million and don't you forget that, okay? And I don't say that about a lot of teachers. Sincerely, S."
A note as unorthodox as the girl who placed it on my desk. When I opened the package, there was a shirt. A strange teacher gift, to be sure. The shirt said "nineteen eighty four: George Orwell" and it was made by a company called Out of Print Clothing. For every shirt you buy, they send a book to a community in need. She was right; a concept I love.
As I sit here in the quiet, coolness processing my week, the words of Relient K come to mind:
I throw up my hands, oh the impossibilities, frustrated and tired, where do I go from here?
These past 8 months feel like an experiment. An experiment drummed up by God for the testing of my faith. I can't honestly say that I like feeling like a part of a cosmic experiment. I've noticed that when I feel that my life isn't where is should be, my tendency is to assume that God is just testing my character which is something that I've begun to resent. I begin to think that God is just trying to see how strong I am, or how long it will take for me to learn whatever lesson he has for me at this stage in my life. I find myself questioning the true heart of God behind the life path that he has for me. Or what if this isn't what he has for me at all, and I'm missing it.
I am worn out from teaching. I have reached the end of myself. As EOCs approach, I find that the administration is "sweating" me (as the kids say these days). Today I even had someone come into my classroom, and upon seeing that I only had 5 kids in my 9th grade class send me to the cafeteria to look for skipping kids. They are constantly in my classroom now, criticizing the way I have structured class. I find all this frustrating since I have been asking for help in this class since January and until now I seem to have fallen through the cracks. At this point in the semester, having "extra help" is not a help, it's an additional stress.
In addition to the "support", I find myself feeling very wearing of being over-scrutinized by my students. It would seem that I can't breath without someone having an opinion. An example of this is that the other day one of my students asked if I went on dates. I was a bit thrown for a loop, but I managed to default back to "that's personal." Her response was to inform the class that that means no. The irony of this is that students ask me all the time about my "boyfriend" and because I never give an answer, they still assume that I have one. I guess the reason that this stuck with me so is because it's the truth. Another day this week, two of my boys were making fun of my facial expressions and hand motions, which I happen to have no control over. Still I found myself growing self-conscious in small group as I shared my thoughts on Sunday's sermon. I know that that is high school, but I am still a young and fairly impressionable person. I cannot pretend that comments made don't affect me. I am not yet impermeable. I do not yet know how to distance myself emotionally from teaching. I don't really have anything else to focus on.
I am reminded that my posture should be to dwell daily in the Lord's presence so he can tell me what HE thinks of me, but it seems that he is quietly whispering his truths underneath while everyone else shouts their opinions colorfully. Luke 13 talks about how Jesus longed to gather Jerusalem under his wings like a mother hen.
I want to be gathered, to be cared for, to be comforted, to be given a place to rest.
As always, I apologize for the deficiency of cohesive thought. How desperately I need summer and the ocean to swim in. Alas, the time is not yet; I need to go to bed because tomorrow, bright and early, I am helping to lead an EOC review session. Saturday, you are but a lovely illusion this week.
currently listening to: Time Stops, Explosions in the Sky
We need to be forgiven: to be forgiven in this time when fish are dying in our rivers; in this time of poison gas dumped on the ocean floor and in the less and less breathable air of our cities, of children starving; being burned to death in wars which stumble on; being attacked by rats in their cribs...
we need to be forgiven in this grey atmosphere which clogs the lungs to that we cannot breathe, and breathless, spiritless, can no longer discern what is write and what is wrong, what is our right hand and what is our left, what is justice and what is tyranny, what is life and what is death. I heard a man of brilliance cry out that God has withdrawn from nations when they have turned from Him, and surely we are a stiff-necked people; why should He not withdraw?
But then I remember Jonah accusing God of overlenience, of selfishness, mercy and compassion.
I have realized that people have character based on the condition of their heart. I can ask students all day to show kindness, or respect or discipline, or honesty but unless their hearts are tamed by the mercy of the Holy Spirit, how I can I really expect that they would be able to understand those character traits? If there is no belief in God, or a higher power at least to hold them to a moral code, why should I expect any amount of decency?