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Morning meeting…

December 5, 2009

Yesterday I went to visit the old school,

where I worked for thirteen years…

When I am in a school with children,

I feel like I am with my people…

There is no question about that…

Resigning from my school district,

and leaving my school,

was one of the hardest decisions,

I’ve ever made in my life…

Leaping into an abyss with no parachute…

Teachers are not known for embracing big change,

especially when they’ve signed onto a pension…

But I was given a mandate,

by five and six year olds,

that I needed to write a book,

or make a movie,

about what children know,

and adults forget…

And they told me that I should catch up on my sleep,

and wait in the wings,

until the momentum picked up,

so that I could just go,

with the flow…

It was also clear,

that I was supposed to work,

in a different district…

One that was more ready,

for a radical philosophy,

of education…

I’m still waiting to see ,

where that,

is going to be…

Because I’m getting signs that point,

in more,

than one direction…

Some east and some north,

all towards the mountains…

Yesterday I saw a lot of former students…

Some of them I have known,

since they were newborns,

because I had worked with their older siblings…

My first students are now in their early twenties…

but when we run into each other,

space and time collapses,

into nothing…

Yesterday afternoon,

I stood outside by the swings,

in the back of the school,

and waited for Hannah,

as she crossed the field,

from the private school,

that she now attends,

on her way home…

Hannah came to our school,

from the kingdom,

of Swaziland…

I first met her when she was four years old,

and her two older sisters,

were new to our school…

It was Sports Day,

and I gave her a hula hoop,

for fun…

She picked that big circle up,

and it was instant whirling…

We ran around the field together,

as I set things up,

for the preschooler race…

And that September,

she came into my class for Kindergarten,

and then stayed the next year,

for grade one…

I used to take my class wandering…

And one day she said to me,

as we were walking through subdivisions,

looking for magic,

Your hand is so warm…

When I touch you,

my heart opens up,

like a flower…

I looked at her in amazement and told her,

What you say is poetry…

I had never heard such beautiful words before,

and I wondered what that felt like,

to have your heart open up like a flower..

And then a few weeks after that a friend called,

from out of the blue…

Some one who I had really been missing,

and hadn’t spoken with in six months…

He was telling me about his children…

And then I felt it…

I felt my heart open up like a flower,

and I knew…

One day,

when I was caught in a trap of mental indecision,

my older daughter said to me,

Mama, it’s going to be okay for you to leave your school…

You can go somewhere else… 

And just so you know,

when you go to that new place,

there is going to be a girl there…

And you are going to have the same kind of connection,

with her,

that you have with Hannah…

I told Hannah about that yesterday,

and how it gave me the faith to leap…

I asked her if she ever thinks about her first best friend Kanishka,

who moved to Bangalore,

in the middle of grade one…

She said,

I think about her all the time…

I said,

You’re going to see her again…

One day she’ll just be there…

Hannah’s mom was standing with us and she said,

That’s what I think too…

When the time is right…

Hannah and I hugged each other,

just like old times…

And we said goodbye until next time…

When Hannah was in grade one,

she would come and sit beside me,

after she hung up her school bag…

Sometimes we wouldn’t say anything for a while…

We would just sit silently and listen to our thoughts…

And then the poetry would start…

And we would have conversations

just like this one…

You see,

                                                when I touch you,

                                                it feels like the sun.

                                                And when I’m held in its rays,

                                                I feel the hugs you give.

                                                When I see you,

                                                The light shines from your eyes.

                                                 When I hear your words

                                                 it sounds like light

                                                 and dark mixing together,

                                                making happiness.

                                               When the sun goes down,

                                                and the moon and stars come out,

                                                and I am missing you,

                                                I know that you are still with me.

                                                With the same light,

                                                in a different way.

Making pictures that speak louder than words…


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