Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Something to hang my hope on: Transformation

I write in this journal because it helps me. I like the cover because, frankly, at age 50, my youthful optimism has gone to hell in a hemp handbag. I often find myself anxious and cynical about my aging self and my ability to keep up and therefore more in need of cheap therapy. This journal is one such therapy tool.

The sentence starter at the top of each page says: "What I am hanging my hope on today:" It's an appropriate redirection for my state of mind when I sit down to write. The other day, sitting in the far back pew at Friday's all school Mass and looking at 700 points of light in the pews before me, I realized what I hang my hope on: Transformation.

At the end of a school year, I looked over that crowd and realized the changes that have taken place. A brand new college graduate has become a teacher, a kindergartner has become a reader, a 3rd grader has become a master of multiplication, a silly 6th grader has become a less silly almost 7th grader, a new student has become a valued member of his community, a child with Autism has become an understood friend, a principal has become, once again, the mother of many children, and for a few days a new librarian has become a duck on a bike because she doesn't want kids to lose our library books. And, as I watch the priest during the consecration, I think of transformation and how the Eucharist and the love of a community has the power to change us in essential ways. This morning I am hanging my hope on the assurance that the Mass will make me less afraid and a little more loving.

When it comes to education, there is a lot to hang our hope on. But no...it isn't high test scores or new computers or even the common core standards that we should hang our hopes on.  It is the power of creative thought, the undeniable strength of the human spirit as seen in the youngest learner and the carefully crafted lesson plan of a teacher who will never get paid enough but she does it anyway. It is the child who makes connections, who asks "why?" until she understands and the child who doesn't get it because we didn't teach it right but he shows up in our class and gives us another chance. It is the kid who says, "thank you" even though you hounded him day and night until he finished a book.  We hang our hope on the parents who show up for conferences, on the dad who takes his son's phone away at night and the mom who dares to be a little unpopular with the friends of her daughter.

Finally, we hang our hope on the love of people dedicated every day to the transforming power of love. When we see ourselves as God sees us, shining, beautiful and full of potential, we know we can be transformed. And that is enough for today.

With hope,

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