Category Archives: hope
break your silence, Ancient One,
whisper hope to me.
Text and photo © 2011 by Magical Mystical Teacher
Photo: Northern Arizona
More One Single Impression poems with the theme “Silence” here
More Haiku Heights with the theme “Whisper” here
More Haiku My Heart at Recuerda Mi Corazon here
More Monday Poetry Train Revisited #134 here
More Straight Out of the Camera shots here
More Shadow Shot Sunday photos here
More SkyWatch Friday photos here
More Himmelsk photos here
Psalm 20:4, RSV
I teach in one of North America’s high-poverty areas. Every single student at my school is eligible for a free breakfast and free lunch. For many of our students, those two meals are the only nourishing food they receive during the day.
If some of these kids are lucky, there will be a bag or two of snack food at home to get them through the weekend. Otherwise, they’ll see their next meal when they get off the school bus Monday morning. With meals so haphazard, it’s no wonder that many of our students dread the two-week Christmas break.
Unemployment is chronically high in this area—around 15 percent. With jobs and money hard to come by, it’s difficult to plan for the future, and even more difficult to figure out what your heart’s desire really is. You don’t look to the future. You live from day to day, sometimes hour to hour. Survival is the name of the game.
Survival means that some of our families—and even our students— turn to selling drugs, others to using them. Recently l learned that one of my students often has to hide the car keys from his drunken parents before he leaves for school every morning. With having to shoulder such an overwhelming responsibility at the tender age of 13 or 14, it’s not surprising that this particular student acts out frequently in my classroom.
It’s also not surprising that many of our students don’t do well in school. “They just don’t care,” the teacher across the hall complains to me. “On the district benchmark test, the average score was thirteen percent—thirteen percent!”
“If you were living in what seems to be a hopeless situation, would you care?” I ask.
“But they could graduate from high school, go on to college and get out of here,” he retorts.
“But this is home,” I reply. “Many generations of their families are here, and family bonds are strong.”
Where there is strength, there is hope. And where there is hope, plans and desires can sprout, take root and thrive.
I may not be able to raise my students’ test scores, but I can remind them that family, even a dysfunctional family, can be a source of strength; and I can show them how to plant tiny seeds of desire and nurture them until they grow into plans that, if followed, will reshape their lives and prepare them for a hope-filled future.
Who knows what tender plants will spring forth during this Advent season and in the seasons to come?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
The counselor at our school isn’t sure how much longer she can play the role of Wise and Compassionate Listener. Every day the students at our middle school tell her stories of incest, murder, rape and substance abuse. When the counselor leaves her office, she feels as though sorrow has gripped her heart all day long. She has a “soul-ache.”
I hear some of the same gut-wrenching stories from my students and their friends. A couple of years ago, W-Girl’s sister disappeared. Her badly decomposed body was found many months later. She had been murdered. W-Girl visits the counselor several times a week in an attempt to exorcise the demons that haunt her.
Fifteen-year-old L-Boy brags that he is going to become a father in February. The mother of his child is four years older than he. Both father and mother are still in school, but just barely. How will they support a child without having earned high-school diplomas? Apparently L-Boy doesn’t worry about not graduating. It’s rumored that he makes plenty of money running drugs in the evening or on weekends or on those all-too-frequent occasions when he’s suspended from school.
A casual glance at several of our students will tell you that they were born with fetal alcohol syndrome. They have poor socialization skills and a multitude of learning difficulties, including poor memory, the inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, and poor problem-solving skills. Most of them are impulsive, anxious and unable to concentrate—all because Mom couldn’t stay away from alcohol during her pregnancy.
In this high-poverty area, there is an abundance of hurt and seemingly little hope. Those of us who care about the children of poverty often feel overwhelmed, just as the author of Psalm 13 did. His “soul-ache” compelled the psalmist to cry, “How long?”
When she feels as though she can no longer bear her “soul-ache,” our school counselor echoes the psalmist’s cry. How long until the murders cease? How long until violence against family members is no longer condoned? How long until substance abuse is rejected as a favorite form of recreation?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Sometimes there are no answers at all.
But there is Advent, the season of waiting, the season of looking forward with faith and expectation to the time envisioned by one of the prophets of old when there will appear “…a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).
The pleasant way and the healing rivers may not come in our time. But they will come. And the waiting gives us hope.