Showing Up

Waking from the feature-length teaching-related nightmare, I come to consciousness thanking God for preparing me as a teacher. If you noticed I did not say for teaching that’s the point. I woke with a deeper than ever, first realization really, that the Lord has used teaching to prepare me for kingdom purpose. This became patently obvious at the Democratic caucus Saturday.

First, there were no signs posted around the high school letting anyone know where to enter. Being your typical, prison industrial model, this one was vast with many entrances. People tried the several doors, grumbling their ways around to the rear pausing, from time to time, to complain, threaten to quit the process or to let someone hear about this! For me, so accustomed have I become to students’ self-disqualification at the starting gate, that the absence of directions or point-people barely even registered as an obstacle. You just keep pushing until you find a way in.

Next, there was the line that snaked out the one open door, as you rounded the bend and made it to the promised land; a way in! Did I mention that after so many years of developmental English I can barely discern when to use a semi-colon? If the chill in the air while pacing the approximately .85 of a mile from the Pennwood entrances to the Sirius entrances didn’t undo you the view of that line would, and did have more than a few would-be registering voters do an about face.

If, by some miracle, you did hang around say, long enough to catch your breath, and overheard one of the desperate, campaign-specific caucii announce, in stage whisper, to a suspected comrade that your precinct was inside and you don’t have to wait on this line, you could enter these gates with thanksgiving in your heart, enter His gates with praise, only to find true chaos in progress within. For this teacher-by-faith, a teeming mass of humanity, hopped up on caffeine, sugar and lacking leadership was a familiar, and frankly, welcomed sight. I mean, honestly, where would we be if everyone persisted in the falsehood that they in fact know what’s really going on?

My response? I did precisely what I’d expect each of my students to do in such Matrix-like circumstances: I made myself the best definition of useful I could muster given my strengths and struggles and grasp of the challenges reality had placed before me. I grabbed someone wearing a sticker I could support, asked for additional stickers, and assigned myself the job of greeter, and marched back outside, to the far end of the building, sharing what little information I had gleaned along the other direction with those just entering the vortex. It was in fact quite amazing how much I had gleaned just by showing up. But then that’s what Woody Allen and others have been going on about for centuries, right? Isn’t showing up more than half the definition of success? I mean, what else was I going to do, knowing full well that I couldn’t register or vote as a permanent resident. After all, more than on behalf of any candidate, I’d come in support of democracy; that big little notion whose time may be just around the corner if a handful more of us takes heart and hope in hand and begins walking the talk of true change, starting at home.

I’d appreciate it if someone drew these threads together and wrote a conclusion. My students, even in this, have taught me extremely well!


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