As I lay on the floor at the close of my yoga class, the instructor said, “Place your palms up to receive the blessings of this day.” My eyes were closed, the room was softly lit, and quiet music played in the background. I tried to focus on my breath and find access to the blessings of the day. However, I had had a very difficult day of meetings about our at-risk students, and I had gotten soaked in a downpour of rain.
So what were the blessings of this day? The stories I heard today make my heart heavy. I learned of 2 sisters who miss at least 2 days of school each week because mother is in either high or in jail; of a first grader who is afraid for his mom who went to get an abortion when she learned her baby had multiple handicaps, but then didn’t because she couldn’t pay $9000.00; of a sixth grader who has never really known his father, a known terrorist in prison and associated with Al Qaeda. We discussed so many students who are homeless, living in deplorable conditions, or who are disengaged, unmotivated, and making poor choices.
As a teacher, the blessings of this day must be held in a reservoir of hope or stories such as the ones I heard today would be more than I could bear. It is a blessing to be with these children and perhaps be the one who can provide a smile, a kind word, a bit of encouragement, or a life lesson that will help them not only survive, but be able to thrive and flourish in their lives. It is a blessing to be a colleague with caring adults who expend time, money, emotional energy, and their teaching talents in order to provide the education and nurturing our children need.
Each child’s story contributes to the blessings of today when I consider the privilege it is to be in their presence each day. While they do struggle and we call them “at-risk,” we are also blessed to see resilience, perseverance, and grit. So after all, I do open my hands to receive the blessings of this day, breathing in and breathing out.