Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grant that Your people may shine with radiance

Sing to the LORD and bless His Name; declare His glory among the nations and His wonders among all peoples. For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is more to be feared than all gods. Psalm 96:2-4

So I went to Jim’s apartment off of Central Park a couple of times, sifting through its crammed-packedness of overflowing drawers and bookcases and tabletops, looking for anything he might need in this last move. And I forgot a few things, like his ten-dollar flip phone, but I brought his brown Crocs and an old leather address book. And it all fit into a pretty new Columbia backpack with room to spare.

Which is a stunningly lot of true perspective on life.

And as we flew across country we watched the newish movie on the Lost Boys of Sudan, without sound. We didn’t even need to hear the words, the point was perfectly clear as to what really matters.

Sing to the LORD and bless His Name.

And there are a lot of ways to describe what happens in Room 106 at the middle school down the road with 32 languages spoken (many from the refugee/asylee community in Tucson), with very low income, with 1/4 of the kids are living in foster care or relatives, but Nicole wrote a top ten countdown list from her first two weeks with her Exceptional Education “Art of Language” class that brought humble tears of joy to my eyes. 

 10.  The completely shy girl who sits in the back of class and doesn't bother anyone or say a word staying after class to unzip her dark hoody and show me her full matching leopard print outfit with her ruffled zipper tutu skirt, shoes, and headband she had underneath --- and letting me know I would probably definitely want to call her mom and let her know how hard she was working, and what great grades she was getting so far.  

9.  After two weeks of stomping around, throwing her books and papers, crumpling up everything she did and insulting everyone around her and yelling that she wasn't going to F- do anything, I saw this girl secretly do amazing, perfect, precise work, and quietly slip it next to my desk so that only I could see.

8.  The three brave students who wanted to open up in front of their peers about what they were really going through, after I shared a very intense story about my hardest years in junior high when it felt like everything was falling apart.

7.  Another girl pulling me aside during art to show me her private diary drawings that show how much she is really hurting.

6.  Realizing today that half the class was randomly using beautiful metaphors and similes as they spoke --- something we studied the very first day of class.

5.  Creating identity portraits for students who couldn't see or write a single positive thing about themselves, suddenly feel completely shy, seen, known, and celebrated, as we worked through the collages together.

4.  The two girls who trusted me enough to write about their hardest experience for the first time, seeing their mom getting hit in front of them and their dad leaving.

3. The secret, irrepressible grin that spread over this guy’s face today when I caught him in the hall randomly and told him that I just graded both his tests and he got a 100% --- whose wide face is usually set like flint --- who comes late, doesn't take a note, and hands in all his worksheets blank --- who the only time he could think of someone he valued or had influenced him, was the time his mom taught him to hotwire a car.

2. The moment when the most severely autistic student I have --- who spends most of every class in isolation, shaking and squeaking his desk --- strode to the front of the class, took my giant rainbow flags from my hand and without a word began flagging in wild soaring motions all over the class.  All of us were spell-bound and frozen for a few seconds in suspense --- and everyone then erupted into wild cheers and applause --- and high-fived him out the door as the bell rang at the last class, end scene: week one.

1.  That this kid spoke today.  No one in the class could find the error in the sentence --- everyone was trying --- but I knew that he had written it down correctly. "Sir, what letter is missing from this word?"  I smiled.   And he who NEVER speaks a single word to anyone -- not teachers, not students – but just grins with his big brown eyes, smiled toothily, and in a soft clear voice said one letter, "h."  

No one else had seen it, but he, who never speaks, had seen the silent "h" in the word, "Whispered...."

Sing to the LORD and bless His Name.