Sunday, February 25, 2007

Caged in the Hairball

"If we are to achieve the quantum leaps the future seems to be demanding of us, we must risk to leave our containers-turned cages and find grace to dance without stepping on toes. . . Many of us choose security over freedom to such an extreme that we confine ourselves and profoundly limit our experience of life. Maximum safety, minimum existence."
Gordon MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball

"I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."
Luke 16:8b (Msg)

Ok, so this post just couldn't inspire true poetry--one of the side effects of the hairball, I suppose.

There are certain parts of my job that I love ... namely, the students.

I want my actions,my words,my promises,my life to scream to them "You matter! You are not an accident! You are not someone's second thought. Someone's punching bag. Someone's scapegoat for their own lost dreams. You have a reason for existing and a part to play in the good and beautiful side of this world. The sky's the limit . . . "

But my voice competes with the scent of prison and the slow-marching beat of mediocre expectations that snakes through the halls of public school. Where they feel like another filled desk, another word on a faceless roster, another bad kid waiting to get caught, another ID bar code to scan in the lunch line, when all we are is dust in the wind ...

I've always been the good kid, the straight A over achiever who got pats on the back for maturity, freedom and trust that was earned by consistent accomplishment, but for some reason, at this school, I am now the bad kid. The rebel, The artistic free thinker. The one to "keep on eye on". (twilight zone music playing)

When you walk in my room,
I see structured, student-led creativity and box-breaking productivity.
The powers that be see chaos.
Maybe I should put them in rows and talk them to sleep ...
I see kids teaching kids by thinking beyond abercrombie and myspace.
Poetry of the teenage mind.
They see noise.
Maybe I should pass out worksheets
and have them spit back out the spoon-fed facts I toss at them.. .
I see adrenaline pumping discussion
that tills the soil for me to plant some character education.
They see frivality. Get to the point. Stick to academia.
Why should I teach them first how to read and write
if they have nothing worthwhile to read and write about?
I see awake and engaged treasures from heaven
colliding and crashing into one another like firework finales.
They ask why the kid in the back was tapping his pencil during the discussion.
That's how he thinks, that's evidence of challenge, a spark.
I would take pencil-tapping over glazed eyes any day.

Lord, God, I'm tangled up, feeling trapped, smothered
wondering if my voice is heard though all this mess,
do they know how much You and I truly love them,
no matter what the hairball of the system
or the conveyer belt of society keeps pumping in front of them?

Give me strength, Guide my every action.
If Paul can sing in prison,so can I.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cheerleading for a Lion Chaser

"Maybe Christ was more dangerous and uncivilized than our Sunday school flannelgraphs protrayed. Maybe God is raising up a generation of lion chasers." Mark Batterson, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day

"Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion." 2 Samuel 23:20

pom poms shake as I peer down in the pit
afraid to look, jaw clenched like a vice grip
the roar is deafening, but it's not the crowd
I imagine the victory before it is true
I see my husband's hand reach up from the snowy horizon
every ounce of reason would see the massive paw
I can see my breath in the cold
and feel my toes going numb
but one ring of gold on that hand,
an I do ten years ago,
and a love I daydreamed of in junior high
brings me to the pit, pom poms in hand
dancing to stay warm,
tonight was a wound, a deep cut,
I heard him yell and the claw tear his flesh
and no matter how loud I cheer
the pain is louder in his mind
He is chasing and fighting this Lion for You
give him strength when he is wounded
help him imagine the victory as I do
the devil is whispering with voices of the past
flashbacks of fumbles on the goal line,
men he admires that he let down,
swell the music, give him visions of triumph,
images of our daughter, peace to hear my voice,
provide strength when my cheers aren't enough,
his mind is buried in his weaknesses like falling snow
grab a shovel with me
his heart is waning from a failure he tried to prevent
like a crash he could see coming
just a split second too late in the swerve
we can't turn back time in Your disguised blessing of free will
But we can finish the cheer together