we go through

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song

-U2

how did the year go???

that is probably the question i get asked most in june…by friends and family…who want to know how the past year of teaching went–and how, exactly, it measured up to past school years…

in those moments, there are usually other people around, and it’s summer, and the sun is shining, and it’s over…so, usually i don’t mind talking about it–but at that moment, i didn’t want to talk about it at all…at least not in regards to the 2016-2017 school year, anyways…

because even though it was 80+ degrees out and i was standing next to the community pool (watching my kids play without a care in the world) on a bright and sunny summer day…when a friend asked me that question…i could feel the clouds coming, i could feel the temperature dropping…

i could see the shadow again…

here’s what happened last school year…

from november to january (within 8 weeks), at my work, shit went down: multiple types of hate-motivated harassment (primarily along racial and religious lines) between students occurred, serious online bullying and harassment took place, drug abuse was rampant, one student was raped by another student, one of our principals was charged with child porn (fired and charged), and one of our teachers was shot and killed by the police.

many of these things, and more, kicked off right after the election…

then, there was a little lull, a little bit of quiet…before the next wave hit…

in the spring, four of my own students were on short-term placements at mental health facilities…for wanting to take their own lives…young people, teenagers–for whom life had become just too much…thankfully, none of the students were ever successful in their attempts…in one case, i got word from a school social worker that my student was going to be gone for several days while at a placement after attempting suicide…when he returned, i got the chance to tell him, “i’m glad you’re back.  you know, there are a lot of people around here who are, too–there are a lot of people around here who care about you.  i do, too.”  even though i meant it, and even though it was the right thing to say, i couldn’t help but feeling like my words were feeble and lame and weak.

it’s safe to say that, by june, i was sick and tired of seeing people being hurt.  it’s also safe to say, that i’ve never seen a school year like the last one…never.  and that’s saying something, given that i’ve seen some things in my time.  the sheer level of emotion–especially, fear, anger, and sadness–was unimaginable…these emotions were laid bare, raw and exposed…and it took it’s toll on all of us.  to say that i was in over my head this past year, would be an understatement–i don’t think i’ve had a year where i’ve felt more at a loss or powerless to do anything helpful in response to what i was seeing than i did this last year…the pain, the suffering, the brokenness–were overwhelming…never mind, trying to teach a class and go through lessons when all this shit was going down–in fact, i remember going to administration several times during this onslaught for help because i was drowning (and because, i’m not a social worker or counselor) …but, the party line was “keep doing what you’re doing”, “keep teaching” — their posture seemed ridiculous and impossible, if not laughable (were the situation not so serious)…especially since, the shock waves from the above incidents seemed to be knocking everyone down (again and again)–especially the kids…

to be fair, none of us saw this year coming…and nobody was prepared for it…

well, the school year ended and the summer began…personally, i was grateful for the reprieve and the rest…and now, it’s august and there’s a new year on the horizon…and i can say, wholeheartedly and humbly…that i am very, very thankful to the friends and family who helped me come out of the darkness of the past year…your great embrace of kindness, generosity, mercy and love have brought me back…thank you!

at the same time, i’m not foolish enough to think that just because i have found my smile again that that’s the same for others–the students, their families, and other staff members…i know well that some of these people remain in pain, i know well that some of these people haven’t been able escape the shadow…and may not be able to do so for months, years, or decades to come…

these people, these precious souls…are still on my worry list…

so, i hope and pray, that someday and some way…the storm will break, the tide will turn…and they will make it through…

 

 

 

 

8 responses

  1. Dave,

    Your story reads like a horror story! I laughed when you mentioned the “so how did the year go?” Believe me, I know exactly how that feels! I usually just tell them that the “year” is only a moment in time…. and that every moment of every moment…. matters. They generally stare and politely excuse themselves. Ha! But….. but …. occasionally, there will be this feeling…. this trust is somehow exposed and I somehow know that “this person… really wants to know.”

    I know…. that you know …. our story …. make that “stories!) We have the typical stories about “the house was broken into” or “the entire heat pump system failed” ($17,000.) Everyone has those stories, don’t they? But you know “our” stories …. one to be resolved in the next life and two that continue to unfold. Your story here, covers one year…. ours covers more than four decades!

    All but a few close friends and relatives (your parents for instance) …. REALLY want to know how our year went…. or the one before that…. or the decades prior to that… when the REAL stories were breaking. It’s too bad that many of them actually avoid us….as if it were contagious! (These are people who are either fully immersed in “self” or they become uncomfortable… as if they may accidentally “remind us of it all” …. as if we could ever forget our own story! They fear that the boom could drop on THEM…. and you know what? They are absolutely correct. It could happen to them next week….even tomorrow…. or next year.

    So how are they prepared to “handle” such emotion… such fear… such tragedy? Most of them are not at all prepared. I can assure you that we were NOT. So what does one do then? If they believe in a “Higher Power” (we call it God) … as we do …. they pray for some sort of relief. But years can pass and seemingly that relief never comes. Bad things DO happen to good people! I can prove it!

    You echo those sentiments where you write:

    “i’m not foolish enough to think that just because i have found my smile again that that’s the same for others–the students, their families, and other staff members…i know well that some of these people remain in pain, i know well that some of these people haven’t been able escape the shadow…and may not be able to do so for months, years, or decades to come…”

    I think you should give some “real” thought (and prayer) to just how important “finding your smile again” can actually be. I believe that God counts on our “smile” to help us find those souls who remain in pain…. who haven’t been able to escape the shadow. I’ve learned that God brings us in touch with such people…. mostly to LISTEN to their stories…. but when we feel that their “how was your year?” was a genuine concern of theirs…. we need to share with them. I’ve learned over the years, that sharing our stories can be a very powerful gift… to both participants. There is genuine power in those relationships. Our stories are the most valuable gift we have to offer.

    Don’t give up Dave. God blessed you with friends and loved ones who “helped you out of the darkness.” I believe it was Chopra (and others) who said: “When you want something…. give it away.” God’s grace is free…. but it grows by His power, through those who He loves…. and who love Him! If you want to “keep your smile” ….. give it away! After all… that’s how you got yours, is it not?

    Blessings!

    Bill

    Like

    • bill,

      as always you have sent me some awesome words! they have a lot of gravity…especially, since you’ve been through hell yourself…i think of you and kris sometimes–and of michael…

      i will take your words to heart and try to “give it away” in the years to come!

      thank you! peace, dave.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post Dave! So thankful for your presence in that needy situation. I feel sure God has put you right there in the smack dab middle of it for so many reasons. Some reasons we see, some we don’t and may never; but you’re there for Him to use. So stand firm and strong and love them all cuz you are God’s big arms and legs there. Bless you Linda

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW! Dave, I’m so sorry that you went through all of this last school year. My heart breaks. I knew about some of it and prayed for you and those involved. Much of it, I was unaware of. You and your students will be in my prayers this school year. PLEASE reach out if you and those beautiful young souls need extra prayer! Blessings on your year!!!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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