i have heard that there are basically two prayers. one is "help me, help me, help me" and the other is "thank you, thank you, thank you." yesterday i had one of those "help me" moments.
there are new print ads in nyc for the aspca which show a picure of a brick, and underneath that a sack, and underneath that a puppy. the slogan is "whatever you can imagine, we've seen worse." it really freaks me out and i plan on adopting an older dog as soon as i'm done babysittin my neighbor's dog, rocco.
i saw that ad in the subway on my way home yesterday and started to freak out. earlier i had heard on the radio a story of a 7 year old girl in foster care who was given back to her biological father who then beat her to death. i focused in on that and soon went down the path to my own childhood abuse. i felt really vulnerable and alone. i got scared and couldn't "think" my way out of it. i asked god to help me, help me, help me.
i have episodes like this maybe a handful of times per year now. i once heard someone at an al-anon meeting say, "i've worked damn hard to feel this pain." that holds true for me. i was out of my body until i was 30 years old.
this morning, i took my dog, music, and rocco for a walk in the park. it was a beautiful fall morning with bright yellow and red leaves and warm sun and other dogs to play with. i felt much lighter. on the way home, i stopped by my church for a sit down with god.
i sat down and read the prayers in the book of common prayer from pages 814 - 841, my favorites. when i finished, i looked at the stained glass windows and meditated. i didn't think about the experience of the day before too much, just sat with god and was open. then, i heard that voice in my head that is familiar, but not my own. she said, "your childhood is over. now you are working with children, some of whom are in turmoil."
sometimes i feel like i'm living a very sheltered existence. i'm a very optomistic person, generally, so when evidence of torture and evil are made clear to me, i almost can't take it in. yesterday i felt like my optomism was really naivite, which is what pessimists always tell me.
yes, there is repellent behavior in the world. horrible acts are done all the time. but, i can "let it begin with me." i can create peace in my heart and in my classroom. i have students that i suspect are being abused in some way, shape, or form. the statistics alone say that it is so. there is one girl in particular who is totally not in her body. she is not just daydreaming, she's simply not present in her life. she bought a book at our school bookfair recently that, i swear i am not making this up, had Barbie, as a princess, figure skating and RIDING ON PEGASUS, THE FLYING HORSE!!!! this book was like romance novels, escapist literture for second graders. this kid is living in la-la land. i know, i used to live there too. it sure beat where i was living in reality.
the best i can do is to make my classroom a safe place, to be present for my students, to make it clear that i love them. i know i can't "save" any of them, that's not my job, that's god's job. but, i can be kind. i remember my kind teachers. they had a real impact on me.