"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shreds of the Sun


Driving away from a Friday morning coffee date with Walt, my eyes were drawn to one particular cloud in the predawn sky. A pure glowing white-gold, it sat on the eastern horizon just above the hills that embrace this area. The light was so clear and bright it was as though a piece of the almost-risen sun had broken off and flown over the treetops on its own.

My heart lifted. I was reminded of other shreds of sunlight this week that somehow managed to sear away the darkness of exhaustion, a suffocating workload, and enduring shadows of grief.

A friend stopping by school at the end of the day, just to visit with me, to see how I'm doing. We both knew I could have used that time to chip away at the massive pile on my desk. However, those fifteen minutes of laughter and connection mattered much more than a batch of corrected papers. Patricia's words about remembering to have fun helped me refocus. When we walked out together my step was much lighter than it had been all day.

There was a parent night this week. One I didn't want to attend because of the time: 7:00 to 8:00 P.M.—my bedtime. We go to outdoor school next week and this was the informational meeting. I had no part in the program beyond being a familiar face for my families. The energy in the packed gym was intoxicating. Families seemed genuinely pleased to visit with me before things officially started. My kids came up to me beaming, as though we hadn't seen each other for days instead of hours. More than once I turned to a tap on a shoulder into the grinning face of a former student, and savored the warm unrestrained hug. I smiled the entire drive home, even though it was close to 9:00.

A morning in my classroom. The day hadn't officially started and I was checking to see who was missing. The desk next to Joy's was empty. Grace hadn't yet arrived. I said something about hoping she'd be there soon. Joy said, "I hope so, too. We'll all be clumsy and falling down if she doesn't come." It took me a minute to get what she was saying.

When I did, I laughed and replied, "You're right. Which means you can never be absent, because we couldn't get through a day with no joy."

These shred-of-sunlight moments don't drive the darkness away, any more than my bright cloud this morning was responsible for ending the night.

But they do fill my eyes and soul with hope and life when my principal asks me at lunch if I can have my data matrix done the by the next day even though no due date had ever been stated, and I'd never done one before, and it would not be a short task. Or when a team meeting is co-opted by a special ed teacher full of advice so disconnected from the world of a regular classroom we might as well have been from different planets. Or when I spend hours collecting data to be told I need to do it over because the directions I was given were wrong.

Today is the fall solstice, when darkness begins its season of domination. I love this time of year—have always loved the soft quality of the lingering light and the colors of dying leaves that imitate summer sunsets. More than anything I love the promise held in the air—a smell, an energy—that leaves no doubt that light will never be completely extinguished no matter how deep the darkness.

A single golden cloud. A caring friend. A child's brilliance. Shreds of sunlight in the darkness. Promises. Reminders of where the power truly lays.


28 comments:

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb, Once again I find your writing lyrical. But more important, I find it inspiring, filled as it is with hope that in the midst of darkness waits the light.

Have you ever read the book "Winter Solstice" by Rosamund Pilcher? I listen to it on audio cassettes every Advent and have done so since I first read the book in the winter of 2000. Like your writing today, it, too, shows us how in out of the dark night comes the dawning.

Peace to you in your teaching and even in your exhaustion.

Desiree said...

Oh, Deb! Your writing is so poetical! As I've said before, every single word you use carries weight. It is such a gift!

Richard said...

We should all be so connected to our environment--internal and external.

Stacy Crawford said...

I'm glad you are finding rays of sunshine admist the turmoil. It's that bit of hope that keeps one foot going in front of another. It seems to take 6+ weeks for everyone to get into the swing of things, allow yourself that too.

Wanda said...

Grace, Joy, and....

Is there a Mary or David or Amy or Phil?

That's right...Beloved.

Rita said...

Despite the frustrations, your happiness shines through. The fall always feels filled with promise to me, too.

What a wonderful parents night with hugs from former students and enthusiasm in the air! What a year this is going to be! :):)

kario said...

Your writing is a ray of sunlight, my friend. As I read, I was reminded that the darkness and the light co-exist in a balance, a harmony that offers us something from both sides. I know that the darkness will give you pause and a deeper understanding of life, but for now, I wish you light and love all weekend.

Mrs Catch said...

What beautiful writing. And a timely reminder to keep our eyes always open for beauty and joy.

Sandi said...

Oh Deb, you have such a gift for words, well chosen, perfectly expressing what I've felt, but don't have words to say.

Thank you for this reminder, that we must take those inspiring moments, hold onto them, and bring them back out to refresh us.

I'm hoping this will post. I just tried to get onto my own blog and was basically told I don't exist!

Linda Myers said...

How fortunate you're able to gather the bits of sunlight.

Barb said...

To keep these shining things as your focus will be so hard, but I think they'll save you, Deb. That child WAS brilliant! I'm thinking of you, Deb.

patricia said...

There are sure to be unspeakable gifts just waiting beyond those exhausting, dark and long days. You have grace and joy and so many other gifts to discover. Everything is for a purpose and for everything there is a season. I am so blessed by you and your wisdom! Thank you for your precious friendship!!

DJan said...

Ah. What a wonderful post, Deb. It is simply filled with light and promise. Thank you so much for the time and energy you spent out of your busy life to write this and reach across the blogosphere to light my way.

Julia said...

Deb,
Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful.

I'm with Sandi on this blogging thing. I can't post comments or blogs. Let's see if this works.

Much love,
Julie

Lilith said...

Thank you for the reminders. I forget.

Lavi said...

I remember my teachers saying that sometimes their work is very rewarding just because of wonderful children they can work with. All the workload and poor payment are forgotten.
I hope there will be more rays of light in your life than clouds to hide them. :)

Charlene: the Polarblogger said...

What beautiful shreds of sunlight you've had! They certainly warmed your heart and brightened your day.
The radiance of your blog also reached the core of my heart and the glow remains there.

Donna said...

I feel this way so much too, Deb and you are braver than me to share it! I draw so much inspiration from you in seeing your strength. I love how you take the time to see the good in small moments that make all the rest go away for a while. Bless you for your wonderful posts!!

She Writes said...

What would life be without reminders of promise... I shudder to think.

Katie Gates said...

Another beautiful post, Deb. I love the "shreds of sunlight" metaphor, and you so deserve a classroom filled with joy and grace!

yaya said...

I know fall signals the approach of winter, but I still feel it's like a new beginning for some reason. I'm glad your students are there to uplift at times...those must be the joys of teaching..the other stuff, not so much! I find inspiration in your writing. Thanks for sharing!

Pam said...

I wonder if you have seen or know of this quote Deb. Carl Jung stated
"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. Curriculum is necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child".
The warmth that comes through your posts, even in the most challenging and stressful of life's trials,is so evident. I know the students and families are lucky to have you with your perspective of life. May big hugs sustain you when the going gets rough. Rest when you can. It is so important in the work you do.
Richard mentioned our personal environment.
So many times the external environment rocks the internal. Keep strong dear Deb. You are doing such a great job.

deborahjbarker said...

How right you are to recognise those shreds of sunlight for what they are. They cannot chase away all the shadows but they can let you glimpse hope. May sunshine continue to surprise you.

Nezzy said...

Yep, I'm retired Special Ed. our classrooms are just a horse of a different color.

I'm thrilled your friend popped in to brighten your day. We fill 'em waaay to full.

God bless and have a terrific Thursday sweetie!!! :o)

colbymarshall said...

beautiful, as always! I love those moments when you can look around at nature and just sit back and be awed by its simple brilliance.

Kathryn Grace said...

Thank you for sharing these vignettes. Moving. Telling. Inspiring. Sad. Every one poignant. May you be ever strengthened and heartened.

As for Joy, how lucky to have such a wise child in your class!

kt said...

I AM POSTING THIS ON EVERYONE'S SITE

Ok, guys, here’s the deal:

Dad has been in the hospital most of the month of September. I just brought him home this afternoon. He has been placed in a hospice program and I will be caring for him at home until the Lord takes him to His home. I have no idea how much time
I will have to respond to any of you. I do still have several posts sitting in the SCHEDULED file waiting to go out. Please stick with me as I WILL BE BACK.

Karen

Mark Lyons said...

Oh, how you've grown. To not let the little things get in the way of the important things. I'm so proud of you.

Love you
Mark