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.