If I am doing my work well and sensible enough to pay attention, each day brings its little gift of the miraculous. Not water changing to wine or Virgin Marys appearing in the treetops, but the daily reminder that in the midst of the horror the news shouts in our face, human beings are capable of extraordinary beauty, grace and spirit. And so are trees, garden vegetables, soaring gulls or burrowing gophers.
But my daily dose comes from children in school, a place that usually beats down spirit, locks out soul and plants it heavy weight on delicate innocent shoulders to keep kids discouraged and obedient. But not my school. When you give children what they need, when you allow them to be who they are at each stage of dignity and delight, your reward is sure. Affirmation after affirmation that we are more remarkable than we think, that happiness is our birthright, that heaven and earth are hallelujahed in a simple gesture, a face lit with amazement, a small voice singing out salvation.
Yesterday’s allowance for me included:
• An 8th grader who often takes long bathroom breaks to hide his vulnerability belting out a spontaneous improvised blues with a soul that Ray Charles would envy. I mean every atom in his body puttin’ it out there in full view of his classmates. Extraordinary.
• A 3rd grade often hesitant and unsure of his musical intelligence fake tap dancing to Chattanooga Choo Choo in sneakers with lights with such style and grace— in front of 100 elementary children.
• A 4th grader bursting out with a dance move that made the five observing Interns jaw-drop in delight and filled the air with his classmates' bubbles of laughter.
There was more, but three was enough to encourage me to come back the next morning and do it all over again. In fact, it has been enticing me day after day like this until suddenly I found the days turning to months and years and the years miraculously adding up to 40. And the greatest miracle of all? I am more excited, more happy, more relaxed, more motivated to teach these classes than I have ever been before. At the top of my game and the game just keeps getting better. Why?
Not just because I love music, I love dance, I love teaching, I love children, I love a community of inspired educators. I think it’s because my childhood sense that the world was a miracle to be unveiled, revealed, released, observed, participated in, has proved to be true. And each day is an invitation to renew my subscription.
Let’s see what today will bring.