Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Monday, December 17, 2012

Walking in the Darkness - Heading Toward the Light

At the moment I'm sitting in a peaceful living room with lights on the Christmas tree.  The silence is interrupted every few moments by the infectious laughter of my seven year old son who is busy reading Captain Underpants to himself in his room.  Most likely, before I'm done writing this post, he'll come out and crawl into my lap.  Because he'll say, "I just wanted a little more time with you." 

I just wanted a little more time with you - what everyone thinks when a loved one is gone. 

I just wanted a little more time with you.

I wrote most of this post today, at school, on my lunch break after watching several memorial interviews with parents who had their children stolen from them in such a heartbreaking, and violent manner. 

I connect, as I think every parent in this country does, with their sorrow as parents.  Always, always our first focus as parents is the safety of our children - with their happiness right behind.  I feel, as I'm sure many of you do, inadequate.  I want to be able to do something.  I want to be able to make a difference.  I want, more than anything, to have the story turn out differently.

I also connect with this tragedy as a teacher.  For a long, long time after Columbine I kept my classroom door locked at all times.  I always knew where my keys were and every year I wanted to stay home on April 20th.  I haven't felt like that for years.  Today, I locked my classroom door again.  Today, I didn't want to be in school.   

I believe that our school is as safe as it can be.  I believe that the people I work with would have protected the children in their charge at all costs like the teachers at Sandy Hook.  I believe the same is true about the teachers at my children's school.  I believe the same is true about all the schools and all the teachers in this country.  We do what we do, first and foremost, because we love our children.

This afternoon my students and I discussed the Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Do you remember those?  At the bottom of the page, you got to make a choice.  How you chose determined the outcome of the story. 

But we can't, no matter how fervently we wish we could, change this story.  But, maybe, just maybe, we can start to change the conversation in this country. 

Gandhi said that we should be the change we wish to see in the world.  I'm not sure how my small voice can make a difference, but as a parent, and as a teacher, I must try.  Make your voice heard.  Write letters.  Sign petitions.  Remember. 

Psalm 27
Of David.
1The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
4One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
10Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11Teach me your way, O Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
13I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm having incredible difficulty working today.  I have many tasks to accomplish, and yet my non-teaching time, time without students, has been primarily filled with reading about the victims of Friday's terrible, terrible tragedy.  

I want to be able to do something, anything to ease the pain of the parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends who have lost such precious angels.

I'm also clock watching today.  The end of the day will not come fast enough today.  I don't think I'll feel even remotely settled until my own babies are in my sight, and my students are safely home.

I'm thankful, so thankful for the blessings I'm able to hold in my arms, and yet so full of sorrow for those poor, poor people in Newtown.  

Do you ever feel guilty for the blessings that abound in your life?  Today, is one of those days.

There are a few actions I can take.  I'm going to remember.  Even though it makes me incredibly sad, I'm going to keep watching the parent interviews, and keep looking at the pictures of their much beloved children.  I can't comfort those families, but I can honor the ones they've lost by paying tribute to their memories.

I'm going to pray. 

I'm going to find a way to make my voice heard so that the voice of parents is louder than the voice of the gun lobby. 

We need to find a way to make our country a safer place.  We need to find a way to make our country a place where people with mental illness can afford to be treated.  We need to find a way to make sure no one else has to suffer the way Newtown is suffering.  

Many comforting and wise words were written today.  One of the best I read came from Jane at Thy Hand.

"So, if possible, let us embrace grief and sorrow in one hand and hope and light in the other." 


Anne Marie



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