Roots and Wings

Roots and Wings

In the movie Sweet Home Alabama, there is one line that has always stood out to me.  The main characters Jake and Melanie are talking about their past and present, the ways life has changed from when they were high school sweethearts to their current situation of estranged spouses.  Melanie expresses her confusion about loving her life in New York and yet returning home to find that her hometown fits, too.  Jake then says, “You can have roots and wings, Mel.”

So often my own heart is caught in that same clashing of different longings.  I want to fly away and yet I want to be home, grounded and steady.  One moment I’m desiring to be a missionary in a far-away land and the next I want to stay in my cozy bedroom, reading and considering life.  One day, I’m wanting to buy a home and make it my own oasis.  The next day, I am wanting to be detached of all earthly possessions, living simply and being prepared to fly off to wherever whenever.

Roots and wings–the desire to be secure and the desire to be free–mark the desires of the human heart.  We want to be home, but not confined.  We want to be free to wander and yet not be lost.  All of it, flying or remaining, hinges on the longing we have for happiness and contentment.

Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.

Philippians 4:11-12

I am not quite like St. Paul yet, able to find contentment in whatever situation I find myself in.  Perhaps my students would even be surprised with the restlessness that is within my heart.  I am slow to act, yes, making changes at a glacial speed.  And yet…change is what I often long for and deeply desire.  What is the solution? Continue reading “Roots and Wings”

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First Week, Fourth Year

The first week of a new school year seems to feel the longest.  It was Tuesday this week when I realized it was only Tuesday and it felt like it should be Friday.  Yet by the time I reached Friday, I was getting into the swing of things.

As a veteran teacher (hello, fourth year!), I am enjoying knowing what I am doing some of the time.  When students ask me questions, it is often to rules or practices I have already established, questions that I have already answered in previous years.  Perhaps I am most excited about the fact that each year I feel more and more comfortable in my role as teacher.  I’m not completely at ease with my students, but I feel the most myself this first week that I ever have.  I know difficulties will arise, arguments, tough questions, senioritis, and sass, but I will take it in stride.  Thankfully, the Lord has been giving me the grace over the last few years of letting my students’ attitudes dictate less and less how I respond.  I don’t take things quite so personally anymore and it is only something that time could help me achieve.

Overall, my classes are pretty good.  My sophomore classes appear fun and respectful and my seniors seem to be willing to listen.  Yet I am going to refrain from naming too many more wholesome traits because it is only the end of the first week.  Time and homework will reveal their true colors.  My mind recalls my first year of teaching as being one of the most stressful and the students who made life difficult for me still stand out in my memory.  It is hard to tell if the classes are really that different or if the difference lies mainly within myself.  I am prone to think it is a bit of both but mostly the latter.

So here is to a good school year, one richly overflowing with blessings and all that the Lord desires to do in His good time.  And if all goes awry, I can turn to the intercession of a teacher who didn’t always have the most receptive audience, sometimes aroused anger, and whom we celebrate today–St. John the Baptist.  

Teach through me, O Holy Spirit…

August 21, 2013

My second year of teaching has begun and I am peddling my way through the first week.  It is a long and arduous task to jump back into teaching.  However, my dad is quick to remind me (and therefore not sympathize with me) that I had the entire summer to do nothing.  After last year, I believe teachers deserve that.  Yes, of course I would say that.

I just wanted to quickly share a little blessing from today.  This year I’m starting each class with some personal prayer time for my students.  The idea is for it to be a transition time from other classes and help them focus on how this is different than the rest of their day.  Today my sophomores prayed with St. Augustine’s prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. 
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. 
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. 
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. 
Amen.

I asked them to spend some time reading through it and then to find a line that jumped out to them or that they liked and sit with it for a while.  I encouraged them to close their eyes and pray with the line, meditating on what they are asking the Holy Spirit to do in that line.  My first class did it well enough but my second class really took it home.  As I write this I consider that being a high school teacher has taught me to count the little victories. 

My second Scripture class spent some time praying with it and they seemed to be pretty still.  I asked how many of them liked the quiet, expecting them to respond negatively.  The majority of the class raised their hand and said they liked the quiet.  Taking another brief poll, I asked if many had a line that jumped out at them or if they just picked what they liked best.  Again a majority said one line seemed to jump out at them.  I asked for a couple to share what line they had prayed with and the first person shared that they chose the first line but that they didn’t get it really.  That was the line I had prayed with and so I was eager to share what I had thought about.  I asked them to close their eyes if they wanted and to concentrate on their breathing.  I let a couple seconds pass and because my eyes were closed I didn’t know if anyone was complying or if they were staring at the crazy lady in the front of the classroom.  Then I told them to think about each breath in as though they were breathing in the Holy Spirit.  And to consider that the Holy Spirit was sanctifying their thoughts and everything within them.  Just a few more seconds passed before we continued with class but for me it was a beautiful moment. 

Despite what I am often led to think, the youth have depth and desires that can be surprising.  It was a reminder that the Holy Spirit can lead and guide far better than I can.  Thank You, Lord, for little blessing, for giving me hope, and for reminding me that if I simply bring them to You, that You will take care of the rest.

Come, Holy Spirit…..