Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thank God for teachers!

From kindergarten through graduate school, they are the ones who shaped me, challenged me, transformed me, gifted me.


They are underpaid, unvalued, unappreciated. They have become one of the political 'footballs' for all those who are looking for a scapegoat on which to pin all the ills of society.  They are mocked for having a job which gives them a 3-month 'vacation.'  They are demeaned and derided every time a vote comes up on a school levy.

Yet, a teacher is the one who will reach into his own nearly empty wallet and pay the school fees for several of his students, so they can participate in all the activities.  A teacher is the one who will stay after school has ended because the parent of one of her kids is running late, but forgotten to call and tell the school.  A teacher is the one who will befriend the loneliest kid in the school, making sure that they know they are valued by someone.  A teacher is the one who will challenge all us 'high potential, low achievers' to discover our gifts.

Teachers are the ones who go about the vocation of educating our children, with one hand tied behind their backs by all the experts who have never stepped foot into a classroom, by all the politicians who wouldn't last one day in a room full of 6-year-olds.  They are mandated to train kids to pass test after test, when all they want to do is introduce kids to the power of words, the intricacies of numbers, the incredible wonders of the universe, the complexity of the world in which we live.

Teachers are the ones who, while on this 'extended vacation' can be found most days in their school building, preparing for the coming year, learning about the children who will be a part of their lives in the coming school year, who will be sending notes to their students encouraging them to read, to explore, to expand their minds during the summer months.  Teachers are the ones who will haunt the yard sales, the dollar stores, the flea markets looking for those supplies that the school cannot afford to supply.

And when a 200+ mile-an-hour tower of terror comes hurling at the school, it is teachers who will set aside their own fears (and worries about their own families) to calm their students and lead them to where they are supposed to shelter.  It is a teacher who, with life growing inside of her, will way her body across her wards to protect them.  When a mentally ill person with a gun comes to a school, it is teachers who will respond before the first responders ever get a call, shepherding the little ones they love so much into closets and whispering to them 'I love you'; it is a teacher who will step between the gunman and the children. 

Believers or not, they are the ones who, day in and day out, year after year, live out Christ's calling to love others so much that we would lay aside our lives for others.

So, as the school year comes to an end, let me simply say - to the teachers, aides, subsitutes, and volunteers; to those who drive the buses, fix the meals, maintain buildings; to the secretaries, the OTs/PTs, the nurses, the psychologists and counselors; to all who impact lives of children and young people in ways you will never know (but we will, always!):


(c) 2013 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 06, 2013

Imago Dei

I sat down on the front pew to listen to the postlude played by our guest musician, a concert pianist.  As the music began to flow, I was close enough to observe the delicacy of his fingers on the softer notes, and the arching hands that gave force to the stronger.  The piece echoed in the sanctuary as he continued to play, without any music in front of him, simply from memory.

How does it happen?

How is it that one person hears notes in their head, where I only hear noise, and puts them down on sheets of paper, shaping them into a piece that endures through the centuries?  How does one memorize the complexity of the notes, and then send them down to her fingertips, playing them in such a way that still echoes in hearts hours and days later?  I could pick out the notes on a piano, but could never put them together so that people's lives are changed.

How is it that I can look at a field and see trees, grass, a couple of horses, a sky with clouds gathering darkly, and a Constable sees 'The Hay Wain'?  How is it that I can put words together in a rambling sentence, and a poet can take those same words and produce something that calls you to sit in silence?

How is it that I can look at a scene and quickly dismiss it as every day ordinary, and a photographer snaps a picture and through her eyes that same image resonates with thousands of people?  How is it that I can see an injustice and write a letter to the editor, and a Lincoln can pen his 'House Divided' speech?

More and more, it is in the notes in the musician's head and hands, it is the internal eyes of the painter and photographer, it is in the  dexterity of the wordsmith that I find confirmation that we are indeed created in the image of God, the Master Artisan.

© 2013 Thom M. Shuman