There are those weeks that seem that they will last forever. The ones where the work seems to pile up faster than I can get rid of it, and the students seem ready for the extended weekend ahead already. Sometimes it threatens to slump you into the motions of what you do day to day, but there’s always that moment that jolts you back to reality. That incident or situation that reminds you of the urgency of your work and the special place being an educator does give me privy too, even if it means exposing ourselves to the cruel and sometimes utterly crushing world around the confines of our cement plastered school buildings.
Today was one of those moments. In the usual task of ending one class and beginning another, I asked the simple question to one student about why they were late for class. As the scene unfolded in front of me of tears and heartache and fear, I was caught up in a whirlwind of my student’s life. With each word getting angry and bombarded with sadness all at once. Why can’t children just grow up as children? Free of care and of hurt and of want? Instead of stray bullets, drug games, and angry ex-boyfriends. Even though as their teacher, I do not live it, I still take it in to my own degree. A close teacher friend of mine describes the after-effect as her heart going numb, causing an inability to think straight sometimes about the matter. And as my carpool buddy and I drove my student home to make sure she got home safe and locked the doors, I flashed back to a poem that weighed heavily upon my heart yet also moved me to work more diligently at the work I was doing in Ghana. One of the vocabulary words from this weeks class readings is “interrelatedness,” pertaining to the connection every community has to another around the world. The elements of life and its hardships and nuances and strength are different in Adenta, Ghana as they are in Liberty City, Miami, yet when I re-read this poem, I can’t help but think that the sentiments are similarly the same:
Their dark skins like velvet glow in the sun
While their smiling faces turn to face me
Their beauty transcends their surroundings.
And I am forever changed by
the way they look at me.
But most of all I am struck
by the eagerness of their souls,
while they hold on to every
word I say to them like the
last drop of sweet, sweet water.
Here on Earth such beauty is ethereal
It buys you broken chalkboards,
A rectangular grass plot for play,
And cement block classrooms.
Nothing lasting, nothing special,
And nothing equal to the worth of these children.
O God be with your children now.
Let them know that the last shall be first
That You are the God of the brokenhearted
And that You never left this land.
But most of all,
Let them know it may seem like
they are forgotten now—
Mere shadows on this earthly home–
But they are never forgotten in Your Kingdom.