Words Matter Part 2 #SOL22 Day 2

The card lay among the mess of what had become my desk. A packet with spreadsheets of books that need to be ordered, stacks of assessments that need to be given, a few random rocket rewards, completed reading challenge fliers. But within the disarray sat a natural colored envelope with “🤎 Jill” written on the front. Warmth permeated from the small package. I knew whatever was inside would comfort and uplift me.

I walked by several times without acknowledging it. All business at the moment, I had things to get done and needed to stay focused, remain strong. It has been a rough week. A friend’s life turned upside down in a split second. My role at school changing to support her students. Managing my emotions of sorrow for her and trying to remain strong with her students has been a balancing act of feelings.

I tucked the envelope carefully in my bag as I left for the day. I wanted to savor these words in the safety of my home where I could fully take in the message without distraction.

Arriving home, the house so quiet, the dog doesn’t even stir, I place my bag at the bar. I pull out the thick envelope. Remove the decorative washi tape seal. Slide out the crisp pages. The sheets are full of verses chosen by friends to strengthen and comfort me. An act of compassion and care. Yet another example of the amazing group of people I work with. When you work at a school, you are surrounded by an instant community. Any my school community is like family.

As I linger over these pages, I am reminded again that words matter.

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge.

Morning Porch Sittin’

Our rustic home for 3 days in Happy Valley, Tennessee

I turned over in bed and noticed the faint light penetrating the thin muslin curtains. Ah, morning time. I love the first streams of light and the soft nudge they give me to wake up and start my day in the stillness.

Brewed coffee in hand, I step out of the 100 year old cabin onto the front porch. The wooden screen door creaks on its hinges. I catch it carefully so it doesn’t slam. I breathe in the damp mountain air; feel the moisture on my skin of the fog rising off of the Smokies. I settle into the rocking chair with my books and notebook. THIS is what I came for. These next 120 minutes of time to think, reflect, observe, and be at peace in my mind.

I notice the chorus of little birds on the hillside across the quiet street. Swooping and calling in playful movements. So many varieties playing chase in the meadow.

My devotion and prayer time come first. I picked up a bible from the end table inside, inscribed with “Bobby Christian.” It molded to my hand, soft and malleable from years of use. I wonder what life was like for Bobby? Did he and his family attend the church two lots down?

A deer appears near the top of the hillside. His head on a swivel; frozen in place and looking for enemies. I beg him to relax and feel the safety of this place. He knows the area much better than I and the risk of being out in the open. Finally, he settles and feeds on the dewy grass.

Next up, notebook time. I let my mind process some of what the last month, last year has held. My role as instructional coach was put on hold to address many different needs in our building…tech support for teachers and families, teaching 6th grade math online, teaching 3rd-5th grade writing online, teaching in a very challenging 5th grade classroom in person for the last nine weeks, preparing for my son’s high school graduation and the open house that followed. Putting these thoughts on the page allows them to leave my mind; breaking the cyclical thinking attached to them.

My eyes search the unruly overgrown wire fence separating the road from the hillside. The green of the trees brings peace and calm to my being. I’m not sure what it is, but trees have this immediate effect on me.

I open Mary Oliver’s collection called Devotions. “I Worried” spoke to me. I love the last stanza: Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang. Then I read “Passing the Unworked Field” about Queen Anne’s lace, how it stands straight on its thin stems how it scrubs its white faces with the rag of the sun how it makes all the loveliness it can. Sitting in a rocker on the porch of a 100 year old cabin reading Mary Oliver. The perfect setting to feel the essence of her poetry.

I hear a rustle in the cabin. The others wake to the start of the day. My solitude time is over, but I am filled up and ready for the family time ahead.

The view from the front porch

Psalm 23 #sol20

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

I don't like the way this feels
We need to get you upstairs for a mammogram and ultrasound

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

he restoreth my soul:

I stroke my grandmother's hand,
pull out my phone to look up Psalm 23.  
She was hooked up to oxygen, 
taking short, choppy breaths.  
Her body was resting as best it could 
while the internal struggle to let go was progressing.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness

for His name’s sake.

The technician had everything positioned just right
Don't breathe 
beep, beep, beep 
Don't breathe
beep, beep, beep

Yea, though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Do you remember when you used to give me perms?
They always lasted forever.
My friends were jealous.
I always loved your fried chicken
and mashed potatoes with the white gravy.

Thou preparest a table before me

in the presence of mine enemies;

The warm gel oozed onto my skin
The pressure of the probe
searching, hunting
Fingers on the keyboard
shift, click
shift, click
Let me confer with the radiologist

Thou anointest my head with oil;

my cup runneth over.

As each minute passed I reassured her
Linda is on her way
She will be here soon

Surely goodness and mercy

shall follow me all the days of my life:

There is a small mass
We need to schedule a biopsy

And I will dwell in the house

of the Lord forever.

My mom walked through the door
We hugged
She made it to see my grandma through