I was spent.
As I usually am at the end of a school year. This one, more so.
I am a literacy coach at an elementary school for students from Prek to grade five. We have five to eight sections per grade – about 800 students. This is a large school. I am the only coach.
I have been in education for over twenty years, my first job as a first grade teacher in 1987. Education is changing. Students are changing. Society is changing. New teachers coming and others leaving. Holding on to a vision is sometimes daunting when so many changes are continuous in our profession.
My job does not end when the students leave. I continue to work through the summer, compiling data, working on curriculum, ordering materials, planning for new teachers, reading new research and keeping abreast of new literacy practices.
Added to the load of my job was the fact that I was finishing up my Masters. Because I am a perfectionist and overachiever in some areas, my final paper ended up being a book. A blessing and a curse.
I also have four wonderful children, the ages of 17, 19, 20 and 22. All of them. . . at home with my husband and I. Just when we thought the nest would be emptying, they started coming back. Sleep was something I was lacking and my edges were frayed with constant stints of worry at night. They are all normal kids who like to have a good time. I, the parent, that just prays for the angels to guide them home safely at night.
My husband, we’ll call him Sporty, was in full force with fishing, golfing and running down to the hunting land to farm some food for deer, fall just around the corner. His agendas after work are full. Married for 24 years, I’ve accepted that this is who he is.
My life is one that 98 percent of the world pray for. I’ve been so blessed, too blessed. Yet, it was also overfull. I had been scattered and strewn about. Pieces of me were everywhere, but not really there. I needed to get away just to figure out if I could keep going at this pace and in this path. And just to remember why I was here in the first place. I was losing meaning and purpose in all that I was doing.
July is my month of freedom.
So, the end of June when I was able to attain a small cabin for two weeks beginning July 1, I was as giddy as a school girl could be.
I had the car packed up in two hours. Sporty came with to help set up camp, but he could not stay as work was calling his name, having just had vacation time for a Canada fishing trip. I was at ease with this, as I craved aloneness. I think he had mixed feelings. I could feel this, but we didn’t talk about it. The kids planned on coming and going when they could, being only an hour away. Honestly, I was not planning for anyone. . . but myself. A strange feeling, selfish, yet a desperate attempt, like I was running away from my life, in order to save myself.
Upon arrival, I unloaded food, checked out the facilities and immediately drug my chair down to the water.
I climbed into my resting place and closed my eyes and I just lay there. The air moist, the sun embracing me with warmth and the sound of the waves lapping. This is heaven. How can heaven not be like this? All I could verbalize over an over in my mind was,
“Thank you, God. I am here now. Let me rest. Please, please, bring me peace.”
Tears were already welling up and I hadn’t been there for more that an hour. I had to hold them back as I wasn’t ready to face all that God had in store for me here just yet.
The breeze gently caressed my skin. “Yes, I know you have something to say,” I replied to it. “But, not now. . . I just beg to lay here and disappear into this landscape and forget who I am for now.”
It wouldn’t listen and I smiled just knowing there was so much here for me. I would try to be patient toward all that was unsolved in my heart, just as Rainer Maria Rilke starts out her poem, LETTER TO A POET.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves.
do not now seek the answer, which cannot be
given you because you would not be able
to live them. And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then
gradually, without noticing it, live along some
distant day into the answer.
I prayed to live my questions. First I needed to articulate them. In this mess of who I was at that point in time, would I even be able to figure out what my questions were?
And how do you live a question into the answer?
I would let the breeze teach me.
Today though. . . I just rest. Just rest my weary bones.