Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lent and the End of a School Year: Why We Can't Give Up

It's a strange coincidence that Lent and the last quarter of the school year occur about the same time. When taken seriously, both can seem long and difficult. At first, we are excited about  the possibilities and start out, plans in hand, to effect change in ourselves and those around us. As the weeks pass by, the allure begins to fade and we are yearning for the dark chocolate we gave up or the alleluias back in the liturgy or those lazy summer days when we haven't set our alarm clocks.We are "over it" so to speak and it is "over us."

We can't quit however.  We can actually, but we know it's better if we keep striving. We didn't choose this path because we are sissypants!  We must, in the words of my former administrator, "Finish strong!"  We persevere because frankly, the world needs us to. I am convinced more than ever, that the world needs those who are steadfast and strong, who stay the course and who can speak from a deep well of love and peace.

For Lent,this year, I vowed to make more space for God in my life. To not fill every quiet moment and every empty space with noise or things. Three weeks in, it got tough. I wondered why I had  made the vow to begin and end the day with prayer and reading, to not check my phone so often or to fill the empty spaces with chatter and conversation. Crazy at it seems, I wanted back my old ways, not because they are better, just familiar. A few things helped: encouragement of my Lenten study group members who share their own journeys, the words of wisdom from the good reverend each week  and the knowledge that sometimes someone else needs our desire to grow closer to God. As much as we need it, maybe someone else needs it too and our journey helps their journey. Recently, I was encouraged by a show of persevering love by a friend who had a figurative door shut in her face. She knocked again, then again, and she offered love through the solid wooden door. Was it easy? I'm guessing not and her courage inspired my fearful heart.

I think that is why, in these last few weeks of school, we don't blow it off, we don't just fill the time. We give students our best up to the end. Even if they don't give us their best efforts,  they need ours. Yes, we are tired, yes we are impatient, and nigh to insane with assessment madness. But, we have these little and medium sized people in our classrooms who need us to model fortitude and learning for the sake of learning. They need our best selves  to keep showing up. As we are loved unto the end, we love our students to the end. As if we had a choice, really.The great things about kids is that they see through us. They know if we love them or merely put up with them. Children come equipped with sincerity detectors and they will know if we are there with them in body or if we are truly there, up to the end, in spirit as well. They deserve to be taught and loved, up to the last minute of the last day of school.

Lent and the school year relentlessly move us and shows us what we are made of. Let's draw on our wells of love for faith, our students, and use up every last creative quiver in our bags to finish what we started. It hasn't escaped me that this blog was supposed to be for tips and strategies and has ended up being mostly about the soul journey of a teacher that wants to touch every heart and retain the passion that she started with. If you have stuck with me, thank you. I work out my angst on the keyboard and hope that it encourages someone and sets my soul aright. I'll share some strategies and some resources again, I promise. Thanks for listening.

Peace,
~Ellen~

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