Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stay Awake:A Teacher's Advent

"...Therefore, stay awake! For you do no know on which day your Lord will come..." This gospel message, strange as it seems, falls on the first day of advent. Thanksgiving leftovers, languishing in the refrigerator, barely take on a chill as we plunge into the Christmas season. To feed our spiritual selves, we light the candles and celebrate the waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Yet, here we are being warned about the second coming. Really, today?

All day, these words have roiled about, disquieting my complacency and causing me to wonder the meaning they might have. I have become, I realize, a liturgical soul. The seasons of ordinary time, Advent, and the rest lead me to wonder more about the seasons I am walking through and to want to understand the readings that fall from the pages of my prayer books on the known and unknown holy days. The gospel reading, particularly, read Saturday evening at church and again on Sunday AM from my Magnificat journal wash over my mind and heart and lead me to try to discover how they might impact my vocation.

Teachers are used to staying awake. Great students we often aren't as many a professional development provider can tell you after enduring the icy stares of teachers relegated to yet another inservice session! Our administrators know we complain long and loud about teacher meetings and  we gripe about the inattentiveness of our students and concurrently display that same level of distractedness when we are sitting in the one-armed desks with our faces toward the front of the room. We stay awake, though paying attention is sometimes another matter.

Perhaps in today's plethora of opportunities for distraction, that is the challenge. Not merely staying awake but being attentive:

- to the bundles of beautiful potential that walk through our doors
-to the needs of a society rich in goods and poor in spirit
- to the messages our students are bombarded with day after day which pull them from their true selves
-to the growth learners have, however incremental
-to the roots and family systems children represent and all the hopes and dreams which accompany these tender shoots
-to the honest appraisal of educational practices students are often able to give, unfettered by professional constrictions
- to the fact that while children and teens holler out loud for independence, they love bouncing against our boundaries and finding them immoveable
- to our call to be present to the irrefutable fact that each of our students is a child of God, always and everyday

An expression my father used to say comes to me on this day and is perhaps the message I am to stay awake to realize: "You are the bearer of God's infinite life."  It strikes me that if I don't get sleepy about this or crowd it out of my mind because I am chasing other ways to feel whole, I will be ready now and always for when Jesus comes. 

We are the bearers of God's infinite life. Let's stay awake to that reality.


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