Whether you're a parent, a student or a teacher (and aren't we all at least one of those?), I hope you've had a great start to the school year! As the stars aligned I had a ten page paper for my Masters class due during the first week of school. For those of you who are teachers out there you know what I'm talking about when I say the start to the school year is just plain crazy.
On of my favorite back-to-school stories from My First Year was when I came home from school one night, dropped by bags by the door, stumbled a few steps into the bedroom and fell face first onto the unmade bed... I have NEVER been more exhausted. In my life. Including the first few weeks of motherhood! As the stars had aligned my husband was away on a business trip and for some reason I had stripped the bed to wash the sheets that morning (stupidity). I do not remember moving again until morning. Twelve hours, face first on a stripped bed, in my clothes. Exhausted.
In my Masters class I have learned a fancy word for it: kenosis, from the Greek word for "emptying". Teaching is a pouring out of self. Kenotic, it is. The cool thing about it is that's when and where we meet God. When we're empty. That's the only time and place there is room for Him. Then we can be filled to overflowing, then we experience theosis, or divinization. Divinization, now doesn't that sound cool? It's much more fun than the emptying part to be sure.
I'd like to pass on one of the graces I have received already this school year. When you start feeling overwhelmed, when there are too many things happening at the same time, when you're feeling scattered and stressed there is a tendency to get frazzled, so you to try to keep up, am I right? Life moves fast, you move faster, right? Wrong. I think I've discovered the secret: when life moves faster - you slow down. I'm talking glacier paces here. Imagine the film creeping along in super-slow-mo. Think of someone you know who moves through the world with a supernatural grace and calmness. My model is Fr. Miller. Unflappable he is. Grace in motion. May everyone have a Fr. Miller in their life.
Another lesson I've learned (because teaching really is more about learning than anything else) is this: When something doesn't go the way you planned and you are frustrated, maybe even heartbroken, trust in a divine plan that sees a bigger picture. Here's how I learned that lesson (again): In the spring I had a brilliant flash of an idea for a fundraiser for the Pro-Life Club. We're not talking just a lightbulb moment but a why-hasn't-anyone-ever-thought-of-this-before, my-name-is-going-to-be-in-neon-lights-moment. In the fall we would cover books for students for a small fee. Over the summer we would collect cool bags from local businesses and the first week of school we would set up a booth to provide a much needed service that benefits students, teachers, parents and a non-profit! Win, win, win, did I say win?!
Well imagine my surprise when the week before school starts I get an email from the school secratary (the school WOULD come screeching to a halt without her). The email has gone out to all of parents in the school and it reads something like this: "This year Key Club will be covering textbooks for fee of $1/book. Please leave your textbooks in Mrs. So-and-so's room..." Can you hear the sound of my dream crashing to the ground? It wasn't pretty. I totally went into a tailspin. You know the kind -- where one good turn deserves another and before you know it you're lower than dirt. Your mind starts spinning until you're positively paranoid. Someone stole my idea...The student I had told my plan to in the spring took it to another teacher she respects more...My department chair isn't supportive or responsive enough to my ideas...I get no respect...
And that was before school even started.
Then the first week hit. H.I.T. Three new preps, two new textbooks, one new curriculum and a ten page paper. Construction kept me out of my classroom until the day before school started and a new computer system meant we didn't know our schedules until right before the students arrived. I don't know that I've ever come so close to psychologically snapping. Then I passed by the Key Club teacher's classroom (the one in the new part of the school that didn't need renovation over the summer)... Books were stacked knee deep around the perimeter of the room. Bags were spilling over on the desks and the normally totally together (taught the same thing for decades) Key Club teacher was pulling at her hair. Literally. Can you even imagine if that task was heaped on my plate on top of everything else? Thank you, God.
Covering the books was a great idea. For someone else. Congratulations to the Key Club -- they have nearly met their annual fundraising goal of $600 within the first two weeks of school. And I still have my hair. The Pro-Life Club meets on Tuesday to discern God's plan for us this year. Say a prayer for us please.
God gives. God takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
- Thank God for whatever it is that didn't go as you planned. There is a better plan. Promise.
- When life speeds up SLOW DOWN. Walk slowly, breath slowly, talk slowly. Take a time-out. When we all apply the brakes, the universe will slow down. Hurrying is for amateurs.
- Watch this adorable video and ask yourself - What am I teaching the world? Because whether you realize it or not, you are a teacher!