Thursday, March 24, 2011

On searching for God's eyes and heart...

Between dropping the second child off and arriving at work, I try to mentally and spiritually prepare myself for the day at school. I either listen to a little NPR or some calming, spiritual music. I talk to God a little bit or mostly just try to listen to Him. I may chant or sing.

Right now, I'm loving Brandon Heath's, "give me your eyes so that I can see, give me your heart for the ones forgotten..." I don't know what I'm doing at work in terms of teaching, I know I hold people's heartache and sometimes their difficulties threaten to throw me off balance. The boy who didn't graduate because he didn't fulfill his requirements of passing the high-stakes assessment returns in a depressed state with no vision for his future, crying in the halls of the school that would have been his alma mater on a recent visit. I do my best to blink back tears as he tells his story. He isn't free with everyone and I seek help in trying to help him. I don't know if I can do anything for this kid, but let him know I'm there. I don't know if my presence is enough.

Or the petite, studious, kind, cute girl who read The Autobiography of Malcolm X ahead of schedule who struggles with her mother's indictment that she is the worst child and who alleges it is this 16 year old's fault that the mother is in life long care because 8 years ago the family was in a life-altering car accident. I encourage the child and want to take her home and be her mother, but I know it's not possible right now. I don't know what's possible.

I don't know what is possible when I choose for my students Malcolm X and they fall asleep while reading and refuse to read at home. I pushed myself through The Scarlett Letter and The Grapes of Wrath in high school. I don't know how to inspire the unmotivated. Thus, I don't know what to do, even after I plan the great lessons and grade the horrendous papers. I don't know the purpose of my being in that school, so I imagine it has something to do with my heart and eyes.

Though sometimes, I wind up insanely depressed by the stories and sadness.
I drive to school, singing, chanting, praying, thinking...and I round the corner and recall that a student had to be taken from the building by ambulance because of the severe beating he endured on the previous day, I shudder and feel that the my car-preparation in an instant has vanished.

I walk in the building and no one is genuinely happy; people are angry about the students, lack of motivation, lack of toner, lack of support, other teachers, administration and the list goes on. I hear myself join in the chorus of whining and sometimes step out for a solo. I hate hearing all of the voices causing confusion and chaos. I don't know why I'm here or what I'm supposed to do.

I leave the building at the end of the day defeated and unhappy, not sure what I did for that day. I try to calm down before picking up my kids and going home. I try to receive from God some divine intervention, inspiration, idea... I don't know what I'm supposed to do or see, but I know God knows, so I keep asking.

"Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the brokenhearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for those forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see"
---Brandon Heath's Give me your eyes chorus lyrics.


  1. It's 2:30 a.m. and I couldn't sleep. Prayed and found no peace. Turned the tv on looking for reruns of touched by an angel. No reruns. So I turned to the computer and saw this recent post.
    The problems are still there for everybody. But the reminder of God's divine intervention is helping to calm my spirit. I've been touched by the Holy Spirit. Best rerun in troubled times.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. from Laura: Your wish and Brandon Heath’s lyrics remind me of a scene from the Bhagavad Gita when Krishna reveals himself to the warrior prince Arjuna on the battlefield just before the start of a great war. Arjuna has doubts about his role and what he’s about to do; and, in addressing his doubt, Krishna allows Arjuna to see through his divine eye. Arjuna can only sustain Krishna’s sight for a moment because the divine gaze is so overwhelming.

    It seems that the greatest difficulty with teaching (and anything else that deals with understanding what it means to be human) is the seeing, especially in the way that you’re seeing. Veterans would probably advise the development of a thicker skin or the addition of blinders or something along those lines. Not to say that we should ignore the stories in the classroom (the hallway, the office, the line in front of the copier, and so on). It’s just easier to let them pass without too much reflection. But here, rightly, you are asking to see (hear, touch) with super-sense. And, as seen by Arjuna’s example, super-sense is overwhelming. So you’re feeling the way you are because you’re already doing what you’re seeking to do.

    I think your mom’s comment above sums it up. It seems that the divine presence is evident in the seeing and the knowing—not in the removal of the problem or pain, but in the belief that (through, around, and beyond you) something larger is at work.