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Our hearts and minds have been mesmerized by the events in Boston this week. Big disasters garner big reactions from the public. The suddenness and the scale of the tragedy have at times felt overwhelming. The press has given us more than enough images and details of the horrendous actions of the two evil men accused of planning this monstrous act. One is dead and can’t tell his story. But we celebrate the capture of the other one and pray that he will provide information that will answer the burning question of “Why?” While we wait there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people involved in dealing with the aftermath of those brief moments of violence. There has been an outpouring of prayers and both emotional and financial support for the victims and their families. Lives have been changed forever and now the difficult task of moving ahead begins.
We point to events such as this as evidence that evil exists in the world. But we don’t need images of massive carnage to prove our case. We need only look inside the home of a young Chicago couple. Last week they beat their one-year-old son to death with a belt. One held his mouth shut so his screams would not alert his grandmother in a nearby apartment and the other hit him repeatedly with the belt until he was unconscious. Then they left him on the floor to die. They later concocted the story that he had been abducted, forced their four-year-old to memorize the lie, and disposed of his body in the river. That is evil and insanity and tragedy. Yet few people know anything about the death of this young child, nor will they ever hear about it.
My point this morning is that evil has always existed. It exists today in our own neighborhoods. We must be careful not to wait for the next big event before we take action against it. We must not overlook the people all around us who are suffering silently or dying quietly.
And we must not be fearful of living our lives with love and faith and hope…even when evil temporarily seems overwhelming.
Do not fret because of evil men
Or be envious of the wicked,
For the evil man has no future hope,
And the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
I spent a lot of time in the gardens of my great-grandmother, and my grandparents. I often wondered why they seemed so happy to be outside. After all they were working! I just didn’t get it. All that hoeing and watering and weeding and harvesting…with a smile on their face.
Now I completely understand.
There is nothing better than knowing I have time to be outside in the garden this weekend…except perhaps to know that in a few weeks I can spend a part of every day there!
When I turned on the television this morning I suddenly felt as though I had involuntarily joined the “tragedy of the day” club. It seems that each day’s news broadcast brings us videos of death and devastation. I suppose this is merely a side effect of our ability to instantly see almost anything anywhere there is a person with a phone. I know from reading the old Caddo newspapers and from the experiences of my own life that tragedies and wars and disasters have always occurred, but the former delay in hearing about them somehow softened the impact. And not being so connected with friends and family all over the globe made people less affected by the deaths and injuries. The events happened to strangers.
Now, no matter what happens or where, I know that a friend or family member of a friend or family member will be involved somehow. It makes it all so personal and difficult to comprehend on a daily basis. Praying today for West, Texas.
Yesterday was a terrible day. I know you don’t hear that from me very often, but it happens to the most positive and optimistic of us. I was frustrated beyond endurance. I lost my patience. I was angry. I was discouraged. I had a headache all afternoon. The only cure was a walk in my garden.
As I walked it occurred to me that even on the worst of days I never think of quitting my job and looking for another one. I never regret becoming a teacher. I didn’t even think about staying home today and pretending to be sick! LOL I suppose that is a sign that I’m either in the right job or I’m crazy.
What I thought about as I relaxed in the garden was how to make things better today. While most of my frustration yesterday was due to the behavior of my students, it was my own behavior that allowed the situation to get out of control. I care too much sometimes. I want so desperately to change the lives of these children. I want them to behave and listen and learn and be successful as they continue on their educational journey. But in April…when I see some of them behaving just badly as they did in August, when I see them doing half the work of their classmates, when I listen to them making excuses or telling actual lies, when I watch them disrupt the learning of children who are trying so hard to do their best….it makes me feel like a failure. What did I miss? What did I neglect to try? What could I have done to turn this child around?
Of course in most instances the answer is “nothing”. I know that. I’ve been around long enough to watch many of my former student grow to adulthood and despite the influence of many, many teachers they are still “misbehaving”. A few years ago I encountered a former student while shopping at Walmart. He was in the third grade at the time, and obviously in a bad mood. I said “hi” and asked him what was wrong, thinking that perhaps his mom had refused to buy him something. He looked directly at me and said he had gotten paddled at school. “And why did that happen?” I asked. “Because my teacher is stupid!" was his response. His mother reprimanded him, but I knew from experience that her words fell on ears that had long ago tuned out both of us.
There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about mental illness and our failure to recognize the signs of abnormal behavior at an early age. I don’t think we fail to recognize it; I think we all want to deny that it exists in young children. We hope to control and change them. We hope to be the person in their life who “makes a difference”. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. I have been following the lives of several of my former students and unfortunately many of the ones that I feared would have lifelong problems have done so. I still remember how sad I felt the first time I learned a former student had been sent to jail. But what was worse was that I was NOT surprised. Children grow up to be adults and we have to give serious consideration to what kind of adults they will become, because I promise you that their behavior as a six-year-old is a good indication.
So…I have walked in the garden. I have slept. I am refreshed and restored and ready to try again.
I plan to have a Wonderful Wednesday! Hope you do too.
How do I comment on something I cannot fathom?
How do I set my mind to the task of making sense of insanity?
How do I analyze chaos?
There are days when even my years of experience and decades of observation leave me ill-equipped to understand how much our world has changed recently.
I am left wondering this morning how we begin to explain this to our children.
There are no words that spring to mind…
Yesterday afternoon Robert joined Gary and me for an hour of bird watching at Loy Lake Park in Sherman. When we arrived at the picnic pavilion there was a group of women there from one of the local nursing homes. Out on the lake were a couple of fishermen enjoying the sunny afternoon. Other people were touring the historic village. In a few minutes a family arrived for a photo shoot. Later we saw a couple riding their horses. So nice to see everyone enjoying their Sunday afternoon. And so interesting to see the diversity of activity in such a tiny area.
I loved Sunday afternoons when I was a child! Sunday was the only day we didn’t work in the fields or have a dozen chores to do at home. My parents were adamant about relaxing and enjoying the day. We often went for a drive in the country or walked in the park or went fishing at the river or visited my grandparents. For at least three hours each week we left our cares behind and just enjoyed life. It was a time to relax, connect, and recharge for the week ahead.
Of course life is different now. Much of our society considers Sunday just another day of working and shopping and stressing. Some people never take the time to walk in the park and watch the birds. They don’t get a chance to relax or recharge. That knowledge makes me even more grateful for my life and routine- I’m not sure I would stay sane without my Sunday afternoons!
Years ago, okay decades ago, while sitting on a bus bench in Fresno, CA, I wrote a song. As usual my mind was wandering all over the place and I had a long wait for the bus and those being the cave days before phones and internet and instant entertainment I really didn’t have a lot of other options besides entertaining myself with my imagination. The song has stayed in my memory bank and pops up once in a while for no apparent reason. It did so yesterday on the way to work. Perhaps my mind related it to commuting! LOL
I relate that story because I think it is a great reminder that we are not always in control of what our memory records and when it chooses to replay it. We should all try to be careful about what we see and read and hear. We should give some thought to the movies we watch and the songs we sing. We should give even more consideration to the relationships we have and the activities we choose. We should try to record the best things in life in our memory banks, because one day our brain may hit “replay” when we least expect it!
Have a great day!