Observations #23

From the Schoolhouse

string-of-pearls-4_2738113
It started with one pearl.
I call it a pearl; it was really just a little note of appreciation from one of my students.  She had torn a small sheet of paper from my notepad and scrawled out a simple message that said I was her favorite teacher and that she loved me. (Kids get a bit sentimental when the year crawls to the finish line).

I put the pearl on my bulletin board, stared at it for a second or two, smiled and then went on back to work.  But the next time I came to the board, there was another pearl, discreetly tacked beside the first.  This one, written by another student, claimed I was “the best teacher in the school.”  I stood somewhat in awe, like a soldier before a revered monument of the past.  I felt a tinge of nostalgia.  It had been a pleasant year with its natural ups and downs.  But it was ending forever for me.  There would be no more morning announcements to ignore, no more joy over the 20-minute lunch we teachers carve out in the middle of a harried day.  No more progress reports, calls to parents, referrals, sleeping students, lesson plans.  No more.  It was all ending and what was left?  Just this budding string of pearls on the wall.

A Persian legend says that pearls were created when a rainbow touched the earth after a storm.  Here in my humble little school room, the rainbow was touching the earth and the pearls were gathering.  

I remember flipping off the lights at the end day after staring at the few pearls and then walking out of the building with a tinge of sadness.  The next day, though, the rainbow kept sparking more pearls.  More kids wrote their thoughts and tacked them to the board.  

I have stripped my walls to the cinder blocks now.  SOL testing requires such drastic action.  I tore all the Amendments down.  I retired the Preamble poster.  I shooed the donkey and the elephant away.  

But I left the pearls.  Even state regulations have their limits.

 

From the Pulpit

We celebrated mothers last Sunday.  The text was Proverbs 31.  I have heard feminists hate this text since it seems to lock all women into a home-maker box.  But in reality, this was nothing more than an ancient Jewish poem.  Each verse, beginning with verse 10, opens with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The poem sings of virtue, strength, determination–traits that can apply to all people.  However, the context applies them to an upper-class Jewish woman who strives to achieve greatness in her little world among her children and with a supportive husband.  

   In the year 1498, a young 24-year old Michelangelo began work on a commission by the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères,.  He carved from a block of marble the mother Mary holding the slain body of her son.  When I first saw this at St. Peter’s Basilica years ago, I was stunned at how lifelike it was.  

I imagined our text as a block of marble and as I chipped away at it I gradually saw the strong woman-mother appear with virtues of love, patience, independence and determination gradually appear.  These are the very traits I see in mothers today.

From the Pews

  • A number of attendance figures emerged Sunday following the huge funeral the week before.  Some noted that the church had over 400 squeezed into the pews and spilling out of the doors onto the streets.  Others thought the count to be closer to 500 with many people merely driving on past the throng at the church to the cemetery site.  Whatever the count, it is heartwarming to know that so many people loved and cared about Tiffany and Mark.
  • It started with a few drips over the pulpit and then a few more and then, well, it poured through the roof.  The emergency disaster team of Mark Mize and Tommy Hines launched into action to save the day.  They swooped and cleaned up the water that had spilled into the first few rows of the sanctuary.  Roof repairs have been ordered and hopefully,  all will be well soon.  But special thanks to those who helped with the cleanup.

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