Before I went to sleep, I had a spark of an idea. I jotted a note about all the moves we’ve made as a pastor’s family. Maybe that’s what I’ll map, I thought. The moves have made for interesting cultural experiences, but they were not great for the stability of family and friends. I wanted to somehow capture these moves, but I needed to go to sleep after a long day.
Then at 1:57 a.m. I woke up thinking of maps again. I jotted some notes on the notebook on my nightstand. Then after another 15 minutes of lying there, I got out of bed and came to write in the dark without my glasses. I used Ctrl+ and relied on the red underlinings for my misspelled words.
Now it’s just about 4:00 a.m. and I decided to write this Slice of Life too, which I had also neglected yesterday. So, although it is officially Wednesday here, I’ll post this before I go back to bed!
I’ve officially retired from my teaching position. This year I am doing some volunteer work at my same school in reading intervention. Some days I miss the everyday joys of teaching fulltime, but most of the time during this pandemic, I’m just thankful I don’t have to walk through all the crazy 2020 is throwing at teachers. Like this week the teachers prepare for their first student-led presentations on Zoom starting tomorrow, plus a visit from the BQA, the Ministry of Education’s quality assurance assessment. Both are adding to the already stressful nature of teaching in-person and virtually–in four different class groups. Some of my colleagues are teaching two grade levels–eight groups, four classes a day, with over a hundred children total.
So, today I am thankful that beside the Coronavirus stress we all carry, I only have mild stressors in my life this year. Like yesterday it was forgetting to get the grocery list from one of the people without a job we were going to serve through the outreach team. When I realized I had neglected to call her two days before, I made a quick call–no answer. So I made initial contact with a text. I copied and pasted and sent her a previous message I had written earlier in the week, but I forgot to edit it, so I sent the wrong name in the salutation. OK. That blunder was embarrassing and causing me momentary stress as I was trying to delete it before she saw it, and also make contact with her to get her list before my team went shopping in a less than an hour.
Enter my husband for lunch. He went to the kitchen sink and saw the morning breakfast dishes filling the dish tub. Next to that was the previous day’s dishes piled high in the dish drainer, puzzled together precariously.
He took a deep breath and sighed as he started to put the dishes away. Again he breathed–maybe yoga breathing–trying to compose himself and not say anything. But after a few deep breaths and sighs, I exploded.
I responded. “What is wrong with you? Stop breathing. Do you want me to do them? Just stop showing me how angry you are with your self-righteous deep breathing.”
He, “I just have a short time for lunch today.”
“OK, stop putting the dishes away. I said I would do it. I will. Can’t you fix your lunch with dishes in the drainer? How many times do you have to shout at me with your breathing. It’s obvious you think I should have done the dishes, oh high and mighty one. What is wrong with you? Why don’t you act like Jesus? Would Jesus put the dishes away? Or would he just fix his lunch while smiling and greeting me pleasantly? Blah, blah, blah.”
I thought of the quote about getting bumped and having what’s inside spill out–it could have been love and grace, but in my case this day, it was anger and sarcasm.
Fortunately, at this time in my life those outbursts are rare. I couldn’t help but think about the stressors in my life just a year ago, even before the pandemic. Teaching school is a never-ending flow of creativity and learning, sweet relationships and assisting young people in growing as learners. Yet, there is an everyday barrage of extra administrative requirements that don’t seem to help children, as well as unfulfilled hopes and unmet expectations, daily to-do lists never completed. I know over my years of stressed-out teaching there have been many outbursts like this directed at my husband, but also at others. I am not very sanctified when I get bumped, which I think is a true test of my character.
Before my husband went back to his office, I apologized for biting his head off. He, of course, accepted and offered his own, as well. I am so thankful we do not stay angry at each other.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
~e. e. cummings
November has been a month for me to consciously say “thank you”. I think I shouldn’t wait for American Thanksgiving month to be thankful. (That has been one of my takeaways this month.) It is good to practice gratitude for a lifetime. As Meister Eckhart said centuries ago, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Here is my gratefulness prayer today inspired by e.e. cummings and 1 Corinthians 2:9.
I thank you God for most this amazing day–
for the dancing tingling cooling ocean of breeze
and the great green born of
gossamer petrichor and dusty dreams.
Limitless and welcome breath of God,
thank you for swelling my sails
to bear me
through the storm
safely to the other side
of the Bay of Blight.
For the mellifluous music of the ages
Singing softly from the
treetops of joy: It is the birth
day of olive branches
and of keys and of openness and hope.
My eyes have not seen
My ears have not heard
My mind has not thought of
All the delicious dazzling dulcet days you
have prepared for those who love You.
I do love you and I thank you.
Write a poem of gratitude. Write from your deepest senses. Write of the “great happening illimitably earth” and all its strange wonders (including me, including you). Write with the ears of your ears awake, and the eyes of your eyes open.
Brokenness and heartbreak, loss of job
Bickering teachers overwhelmed
Safety protocol mistakes
Covid deaths and counting
White House renegade
Peace and hope
Strolling along the shore
Cooperating with Truth
Foaming bubble bath to my neck
Leaning on the everlasting arms
That nonet duo I wrote today for Ethical ELA captured my day, unfortunately minus a lot of the “breathing in” remedies. No strolling along the shore, healthy dinner, or foaming bubble bath for me today.
It was a stressful day of relationship overload. I am an introvert, and I try to steer clear of controversy. I don’t like to be put into situations where I know two sides of a difficult situation. I always try to mitigate conflicts, not to add to them. But today, I felt overwhelmed with so many problems.
Covid restrictions are toying with our mental health. This day was for the birds, and my neck is tense now.