Last night as I lay listening to the thunder and thanking God for the rain we so desperately needed, I was reminded of a poem my friend Jenny sent to me. She is a NWalum-EnglishTeacherDearFriend. A year ago she decided to pursue a new degree in counseling. She struggled a lot with "giving up" teaching. This past year she decided taking classes just wasn't enough for her and she started working at Street School in her city in January and fell in love with teaching again, only to "give it up" again at the end of the year. Her fellow teachers had a poem engraved and framed for her and she passed it along to me with this note:
"I want to share this message with you because just as I'm not done bringing the lightning, neither are you...no matter what the Lord has you doing."
For those of you who aren't teachers or poem people, it may seem odd, but it is the perfect combination of odd and wonderful, strange and beautiful, that makes poetry like this great. I'm posting it here as a reminder to myself to continue to be a lightning teacher, even if I no longer have a classroom at the high school. [I've italicized the lines that I really love].
To the Lightning Teachers by Derrick Brown
To the teacher that said
"The world is your oyster...'
These poems are the pearls I spit upon your plate. Thank you.
To the other teachers, prepare your flints.
Speak with the hum of Fahrenheit in your dazzled hearts.
Teach us to be artists.
Teach us that artists make people aware
of what they already know and forgot
and really know
what they themselves think they don't know.
Teach the champions the necessity of losing
for the sake of personality.
If these kids are hard to reach
wearing flak-jackets made of knives,
maybe it's time that we
dressed up like porcupines
to show there's a bit of them
still inside us.
Hey you prickly mothers!
The kid under your bed is dying every day.
Dying to play in the mud swamp lava, dying to snap all your friggin'
pencils and end the war,
dying to understand fireflies in the treeline.
Go get them, teachers.
We should all be lighting kids on fire
unless you are a literalist,
or are from Salem.
You will always deserve more money.
Keep bringing them more than you are worth. New tree babies!
Bring them an astral storm of ideas.
Lightning strikes the tree--
the tree is budding with pinecones--
the pinecones explode--
the seed spreads across the forest--
new trees are born.
Bring them the lightning.
Bring them the sauce.
I was a bag of dirt pennies from the year 73
and one teacher, Mrs. Shin, rolled me around in hot sauce until I was
clean. (try it)
She knew I wasn't the Ivy League type, but she still brought the ignition.
"Oh, you all went to the school of business--
I went to the school of none of your business.
She taught me that the word is the good-dangerous.
That it's good to look a dream in the eyeball and not look away.
It's good to have a voice that can speak the language of resuscitation.
It's good to be beat down daily, like the fighting sun