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A Prayer for Today

July 21, 2012

The blank screen is taunting me today.  I have so much in my head, but it is random and unrelated and so not organized.  It is hard to know where to begin.

It is a turbulent morning this morning.  I am out of patience already.  Sarah and Nicholas had a grudge against each other from the moment  they were out of bed this morning.  The little jabs, dirty looks, and crabby tones of voice have helped my blood pressure to escalate.  But, all I can really think about is Colorado.  It doesn’t seem real sitting in my nice, safe house getting irritated with my kids.  But, it is real.  I really don’t get it, and I haven’t watched the news or anything because I don’t want my kids to be scared of going to the movies.  How does one get to that point that they decide killing a bunch of strangers is a good idea?  Why?  All I can do is to say prayers for the victims, and for peace.  Oprah posted a prayer that Marianne Williamson wrote for a national moment of silence that will begin in eight minutes:

Dear God,
In Your hands we place our saddened hearts and troubled souls. Pour forth Your grace on Aurora, Colorado.
Give comfort and healing to those who suffer, and heavenly peace to those who died. What have we become dear God, that such darkness has descended? Please purify our hearts of whatever forces would lead to this despair.

I hope it helps.

So, now I have a bunch of random things that do not feel right to write about after that.  It trivializes this horrific event.  I remember when the shooting in Columbine happened years ago.  I was teaching third grade.  In the middle of the school day, the staff was called to a meeting.  This had never happened, and hasn’t since to my knowledge.  There were kids in every room that were told to stay busy and quiet while we went to this meeting.  Our principal had the T.V. on and we all wandered in and stopped to listen.  I don’t think anyone even sat down.  We were told not to announce this to the students, but to be prepared for parents that decided that school was no longer a safe place.  I didn’t have any students get picked up early, and I remember trying to go about my day as planned, acting like nothing happened.

School shootings have happened more times than I can remember, and two times in Minnesota.  So, now we are on to movie theaters.
I picture myself in that theater.  With my kids.  What would I do?  How would I react?  The truth is, I don’t know if I would have known to react at all.  We live in such a safe country, at least I do, that I would not be prepared to protect myself and my children from a shooter.  I think about all the places in the world that don’t have the luxury of not knowing what to do in a circumstance where people are getting shot at, or where tear gas is dropped on them.  In many places, this is normal.  The government keeps control over the masses by using violence.  There is civil war, or just plain old war ravaging their streets.  Even entering their homes.

I don’t have any answers.  Only dumbfounded questions of why, and how the human race got to be so violent.  Why do we do this to others of the same homosapien family?  And, what do I do now?

Glennon wrote this to end her post on Momastery:

“When the world feels loud, we must be quiet. When the world feels violent, we must be peaceful. When the world seems evil, we must be good.”

Seems like good advice.  I have it up on a post-it note in my work space.  I think I am going to go and hug my kids now.


  1. Anna permalink
    July 21, 2012 9:40 pm

    I’m very confused by all of this, too. The more that I learn about the story, the more I want to unlearn what I know, but I somehow feel like turning everything off isn’t a good idea either.

    I read this in The Courage to Teach the other day and thought of you. You must read this book (I’ll loan you my copy) because I want to talk to you about so many of Palmer’s ideas:

    “Second, good education is always more process than product. If a student has received no more than a packet of information at the end of an educational transaction, that student has been duped. Good education teaches students to become both producers of knowledge and discerning consumers of what other people claim to know. Third, good education may leave students deeply dissatisfied, at least for a while. I do not mean the dissatisfaction that comes from teachers who are inaudible, incoherent, or incompetent. But students who have been well served by good teachers may walk away angry — angry that their prejudices have been challenged and their sense of self shaken. That sort of dissatisfaction may be a sin that real education has happened.” (96-97)

    What do you think?

  2. July 22, 2012 8:55 am

    Oh, Anna. This is at the heart of teaching isn’t it? The disequilibrium that happens when you learn something that doesn’t fit in with what you thought was pure truth? That is hard, and to face what might be some uncomfortable truths about yourself, your bias, your prejudice, the way you treat people, or really anything.

    I have been in with the “disequilibrium” since I started working again. I still am trying to fit it all together and make sense of how to teach adults how to read. I know it is all topsy-turvy, but I also know that there has to be a way to be true to my own philosophy and to the common course outline. Either that, or I have to give a little on my philosophy. Which you know, is what I have done.

    I have read this book! I know I have. I went into my basement, but I must have gotten rid of it when I stopped teaching. I donated many, many books to my old elementary school for their professional library. I have regretted this many times and now is one to add to that list. I think I need to re-read it. Or, at least have you keep sending me these excellent quotes!

    Now for my loaded question…how do we do that with developmental students? How do we get them to challenge their long held beliefs? How do we get them to ENGAGE enough to buy into their education? Stephan Brookfield uses the terms “imposter” and “cultural suicide.” How do we get them to feel like they belong in college, and to face the “cultural suicide” that is sure to happen with these students as their ideas and philosophies change?

    Gah…we need another lunch!

    • Anna permalink
      July 23, 2012 3:13 pm

      I know that my comment had nothing to do with your post, but it’s just where my head was at the time. I’ve been thinking about development students a lot this summer, especially since I’m teaching a developmental section for non-native speakers in the fall. I’m planning to start Mary Pipher’s The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community later this week. I read parts of it when I was in graduate school, but it’s time for another read. She talks about becoming “cultural brokers” (as do other writers) for refugees, and her thoughts resonate so much with me as a teacher.

      That’s all that I have for now. I’ll just be snooping around here waiting for another blog post from Teacher Meg . . .

      • July 23, 2012 11:13 pm

        That book sounds perfect! I haven’t read it or heard about it. You are good. Have I ever told you that? Because you are. I am lucky to have you next door to me!

  3. July 23, 2012 5:06 pm

    It’s all so terrible. And of course right as the shooting happened I was reading A Wind in the Door, and all I could think of was “Echthroi!” The darkness, the shadow – things that shouldn’t happen. I haven’t watched any TV about it, either.

    I was in college when Columbine happened. It made me feel terribly scared because my little brother was still in high school. He and I talked a lot about it and he assured me that he would be brave if anything every happened. That still makes me smile. He hated the drills they had to do afterward – because he’s the kind of guy who would plan a takedown.

    I just hate that schools aren’t always safe. Heck, I drive through Pearl, MS where one of the first school shootings happened. And now movie theaters, too.

    • July 23, 2012 11:11 pm

      I know. It is so sad. And your brother, as a student, shouldn’t have to be making plans about what you should do if someone opens fire in your school. Nobody should have to worry about this! But, alas, I guess we do. And, I totally think it was the Echthroi. At least that makes sense!

  4. July 25, 2012 1:20 pm

    I will never understand people. It’s unreal what they can do.

    • August 25, 2012 8:37 am

      Unreal. And tragic. I don’t understand either.

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