Today, I return to work after a refreshing Spring break. And I am reminded of the glorious weight inherit in my job–a job I feel more to be a ministry than a career, an honor rather than a burden (on most days, that is). As Anne Lamott says in her book Stitches, teachers are in the very important work of restoration-makers, hummingbird-hunters, heart-match-makers, and fragment-gluers:
This is all that restoration requires most of the time, that one person not give up. For instance, when I was in school, there were a few teachers along the way who must have seen in me a hummingbird of charming achievement, all eyes, bird bones, frizzly hair and a desperation to please and impress. They knew that there was power and beauty deep inside me, but that I was afraid of this and I was in fragments. Men and women alike, old and new at teaching, were like aunties or grandparents in their firm patience with me, in their conviction of my worth. They had a divine curiosity about me– “Hey, who’s in there? Are you willing to talk straight and find who you are actually are, if I keep you company? Do you want to make friends with your heart? Here–start with this poem.”
And it is an emotional roller coaster through the end of the year. I am preparing to introduce my students to the witches and ambition and the exquisite female heroine/demon of Lady Macbeth, and in doing so, I hope they fall in literate love with and out of fearful dread of Shakespeare. The big, bad, and scary AP Lit exam looms over our heads. Senioritis is in full swing. The pressures and pleasures of graduation and prom consume the minds of my kiddos, in addition to the holy-shit-what-am-I-going-to-do-in-the-real-world wide-eyed anxiety.
In all this, I remain. In all this, I focus. In all this, I love. This is the glorious weight on the shoulders of teachers.
Many years ago I read a poem by Rumi, which has remained in steady rhythm with my teaching heartbeat.
To all the restoration-makers, hummingbird-hunters, heart-match-makers, and fragment-gluer silk worms who read my blog, “here–start with this poem.”