Thursday, August 1, 2013

Letting in the Light

Last week, I had the chance to visit Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. It is my "happy place" and I spend my time wandering as many trails as I can squeeze in, breathing deeply, and being awed by the natural beauty. I find myself saying, "thank you" over and over for each flower, tree, and live creature I see.  Nature has a healing quality and having my feet on the ground in the midst of the forest was restorative.

One of my favorite sights on those trails is the tiny groups of flowers or the small evergreen growing, inexplicably, from the rocks. I think of my backyard plants that I plant, water, and weed religiously. Sometimes, even in these ideal conditions, they don't survive. How then, does this new life spring up from nowhere and thrive?

All they need is a crack, some light, a windblown seed, and they begin to grow. Mountain moisture and sunlight sustain them. It is a beautiful thing and although I love the tall beautiful pines and the statuesque aspens, my biggest "wows" are reserved for the little bits of growths in the cracks.

My thoughts turn to the cracks in my own life, the vulnerabilities I try to keep hidden and out of sight and how revealing them honestly is how I am going to grow. I need to let the light in and allow for unexpected life to emerge. Seeds of wisdom will blow in from my wise friends and colleagues and allow for new learning to sprout. 

My students, tethered to my heart, come to mind. For many of them the approaching school days bring both excitement and anxiety. Excited to be back in their school community but knowing that with the academic and social demands of school their weaknesses are always in danger of being exposed. It is important for us, their teachers, to create safe places for them. It is essential that we don't attempt to appear perfect in their sight and that we learn and live as honestly and openly as we can along with them. It may be one of our most important tasks as we begin a new school year

 Leonard Cohen's words from "Anthem"  speak to this:

"Ring the bell that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in."

Let's let the light in.


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