Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why can’t we just tell them?

Most of the adults around me love young people, one doesn’t teach them in a “private Christian school,” read for nearly no money, and not love them. We’ve had a tough go at school of late: several students got caught with drugs, ones we have long loved and begged God to help sort through all they battle, ones who we never suspected but who fooled us and ones who were doing so much better than they themselves admitted they had been before. It broke our hearts to have to send them away for the balance of the year. Broke our hearts. I don’t know if they each know that. I want them to.

Within the next week, we had three serious accidents involving our students and/or their families…We were shaken and this mama who might have let her first-born drive a little prematurely, license wise, might have forbade him to go anywhere on this last week’s wet roads.

Today, the students were gathered up for us to pray over them…We gave them a lot of theology that was iffy, that flowed from a good heart. We focused our frustration on the devil…if feels good to focus. But, the reality is…life is iffy. We don’t always know and we can’t control and every day is a risk, and as such, a gift.

That’s what I think we needed to share with them this morning. It’s what we all need to hear: “Life is iffy; you are a gift; I don’t want to lose you; I couldn’t bear it.  Help me with that, any way you can. Help me. It will break me in two to lose you…in my classroom or on this earth.”

I walked back into my room of cast-off math students, upon whose raft I jumped when they were cast from the boat in the raging sea of Geometry, to say, “I want you …in your greatest weakness, I want you.” I saw their kinda less than impressed with Jesus music and we are praying for you and we have to pull together against a common enemy ( to save our school – implied) stuff. They looked at me with clear eyes – saying plainly to my ears which I have dedicated to hearing them more than saying what comes easy for me, Why are you all so afraid to be real?

I met their eyes individually and said, “We are trying to say, ‘We love you’… Sorry.”

They, too often the wiser in the room, nodded and smiled softly.

I love you,” I continued to each set of eyes. “Do you know that?” my voice broke as I watched their eyes carefully. The first did, know, he promised me he did. Our eyes meet a great deal in silent despair over what could be. The second would not look at me, much work to do there. The third, The Child I Love, let me rest my cheek against her temple and cry. I was the one hugging her as she sat before me in her desk, ably extracting metaphors from Gatsby. But, even as she was in my grasp, I was the one comforted by her assurance that she well knew of my love.

I think we make it hard, try to relate to them through unnecessary hoops, give them too little credit. We’ve all  felt so many of the same things these last few days.  Things I hear the students saying to one another, sometimes to me. All we have to do is say those things we feel ourselves, aloud, to them. All we have to do is to voice those things and let our brokenness and love be apparent. Then, I think, love will flow between us.

Love is our greatest and only defense in this life, it is all that holds.



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A day home

Today was a day off to do what I do best. I changed to roaming clothes and walked barely any distance, just up the little unsubdivided, wooden knoll behind my house. The week’s rain had ceased and the now dry leaves well shielded the still damp ground. A February sun’s warmth began to bear down on my dark blue running pants, welcoming me to sit and stay. I lay back and let my hood  frame the nearly still lifes above. Young white oaks stretched their arms in unison, their southern sides iced by the early afternoon light. Alabama February sometimes snows, but usually teases of Spring’s soon coming.

The sky was nearly Carolina Blue and cloudless, I tried to take in the subtle shiftings of the naked and slightly blushing arms and torsos. My ears cleared and heard anew the background of my life when I was little: a distant woodpecker’s buzz, dogs barking behind the hill, a train on around its intersection with our nearby roads. Birds chirped and darted and the winds stirred the leaves lazily, the way I do a simmering pot of stock.

The sun bore on into me. It seemed warmer still, when I let myself feel deeply only such. As I warmed, I made myself feel the earth beneath my back, cool, and I was again, made comfortable, the way a foot stretched out from under the covers seems to solve the problem.

And as I relaxed and lay quiet, heard the faint sounds of soon coming spring, and I was home. Not a door frame nor desk, not a property line nor place at the table, home for me is a sense of stillness and subtle sounds. Home is the whisper of a wood, the patter of a pond, the taste of a tender field. I cannot often journey to those places where home and I have tabernacled before, but it is joy to know that  home is also…just up the little wooded hill, on a blanket of long layered leaves.

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Bahia del Espíritu Santo

For the last few summers, I have been traveling south, as in, of the border, with some of my kiddos and dearest friends. The water has been beautiful, the creatures wild and wonderful, the landforms breathtaking. I have been comforted and nurtured in those places where the names of holy things seemed as beautiful on Latin lips as did the entities themselves. This summer, I am staying stateside. My heart is pulling me to a place I have visited once before. We, Americans, call it Mobile Bay. Such a title seems a taunt to my summer groundedness.

But, I discovered an interesting fact that had long escaped me, today. Karen Zacharias, my writer hero, informed me that the Spanish had once named the Bay of Mobile, the Bay of The Holy Spirit. Well, as I have had some of my best moments on and near to that stretch of water, I have to believe the Spanish explorers were on to something.

In 2003, a few very brave ladies and I loaded up all of our children and a few dear, 18-20 year olds and took them all to stare into and over those waters of the Spirit. Imagine the seashore sans snow-cones and Skeeball, much less roller-coasters and redneck air- brush. God did deep healing in me that week as I watched children corral crabs and seine shrimp and flick fish from the waves. The quiet, interrupted only by delight, cured.

We took nets and lines and buckets. We had nearly no phone nor radio reception. We cooked our own food, well, my world-class cook/chef friends cooked our own food, be jealous. We rested on beaches where no one’s shadow ever fell across us. We caught our breath and a clue as to how much beauty resides all about us.

That’s the way I love to do vacation: with dear friends who can stand the quiet and children who are as curious about creation and the other creatures which share the earth as I am.

I am officially planning another trip this summer…Karen’s re-introduction confirmed a dream which I was holding in my heart to return.

“Bahia del Espíritu Santo,” indeed.

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happy birthday, friend

I have a friend, a fairly new one…She hasn’t known me that long, which might explain why this sweet woman is yet my friend. But, in that short time, she has loved me well. She understands and gives what I for one so need: an ear, connected to eyes that don’t easily narrow when I release steam or sigh deep.

She is everything I am not: organized and kind and patient. She is thorough and thoughtful and wise. I am really blessed to see her most everyday. You can tell how well I am doing by how many times my shadow darkens her door…if it does so many times, I am struggling and finding peace in her presence.

Today, is her birthday. I am the friend who does not remember such things much less a card or gift. But, I will remember her and the love she has shown me, long after I do not walk these halls between classes, in hopes of finding her,  near.

Happy Birthday, my much younger friend. May all your years be sweetened the way you have sweetened mine.


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