Thursday, March 13, 2014

the stairs of the white house

as we drive we pass a white house
I don't know who lives inside
what they do or what their names are
what the walls might have to hide

but my hand is out the window
it rides the wind along my view
a light shines on the narrow stairs
I don't know why I think of you

I think because it's perfect
I think because it's night
I almost see your freckles
but I know that can't be right

I know that you can't live there
you simply never will
its halls won't ever have your voice
I somehow feel you still

I wonder what you'd look like
I wonder what you'd say
it's the type of country house
I always saw you in one day

your children would be loving
I know they'd have your eyes
generations sleep in coffins
when someone like you dies

this is where I see you
this is the life I'll save
you'll grow old in this white house
and we won't need your grave

so leave the light on for me
don't forget to sweep the stairs
we can laugh for hours
about our worries and our cares

I see you now, it's morning
you hair still tangled in the sun
I'm silent, drinking coffee
but your smile helps me run

miles fly beneath us
pain is nothing next to you
the outline of your nose, your lips
it's all a dream, it's true

quiet things remembered
the joy of things so small
weekdays passing aimlessly
the comfort when you call

when I leave it's simple
no goodbye, just see you soon
eternity is still a distant thought
from your front room

the room where I should meet you
the room where we should stay
the room that doesn't have
an empty seat for you that day

the white house, as we pass it
only lives in my rear view
but now I have an image
that I think is straight from you

on the stairs of the white house
a girl, she sits and waits
she watches all the pieces of her heart
approach the gates

when my piece is ready
when you get to call my name
know that every day without you
hasn't ever been the same

with trembling I will climb them
up the stairs, I'll see your face
the only reason I can find
He made the human race

if there are really many rooms
and I can earn a key
this suffering is nothing
if forever you're with me

flesh and blood, I feel you
your cheeks so rosy red
on the stairs of our white house 
no one here is dead

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Abiding Things

When I walk in my school, there's a sign that reads,"Discamus Permanentia: Let us Learn the Abiding Things."

Abiding. Enduring. Long-lasting. Eternal. Let us learn the eternal things.

Sometimes, the last thing you think will make you happy turns out to fill your soul in ways you didn't know were possible.

I don't have much time to share this with ya'll, because I'm grading grammar tests instead of watching the super bowl or swooning over my favorite British TV show- but I have to tell you this. When you find something that brings you joy- real, every day, thick and thin joy- pinpoint what that is and fight for it.

I think about that quote every day. It gives me so much hope. 

All the hard things about teaching- and there are hard things- are not abiding. The blood, vomit, snot, and tears pass. The crying over giving out detentions or having to raise your voice to a room full of screaming children also passes. You learn to smile when you answer the same question a thousand times. You rediscover your love of chocolate milk. You shout for joy over rescuing tiny mittens from an icy playground. You stop and realize you've been more alive in the past five months than you thought you could be again. 

Yes, the hard things pass. You sleep less, you work more. Their failure is your failure. Their success is your success.

And something beautiful happens every day. Every single day...and those things are abiding.

The first time a student understands a concept they've been struggling with.
When a student tries again even though they're beat down and exhausted.
When they learn to help each other.
The look on their faces when they're dying to learn.
The hundreds of times they choose the right thing outweighs the one time they choose the wrong thing.

I didn't know teaching would be so hard. So fun. So heart-breakingly beautiful.

I didn't know it would change me. I sure didn't know I was dying to change.

The abiding things. I ache for them. They pound in my chest like blood runs through my veins.
God's mercy.
His protection and timing.
My family's love. 
The loyalty of my friends; the death of our pride to love one another.
The look of trust in children's eyes when they look at me- and the fullness of responsibility and protection I feel for them that grows stronger every day.

I pray, even in a small measure, I can teach them the abiding things.

I hope I recognize the passing things in my own life.

Failure. Shame. Apathy. These are not eternal. It is a lie to believe our existence is measured in some cosmic list of our rights and wrongs.  It will only be measured in love- in sacrifice- in genuine pursuit of truth. If nothing else, His love is abiding- and believing that changes everything.

"Miss Hamilton, I can't do it."
"Maybe not today- but that won't be forever. Let's look at it again."

This joy- such a gift I did not expect to find again- this is truly abiding, and I think it will change everything if I give it the chance.