Friday, April 22, 2011

What did you say?

Disagreeing, misunderstanding, misreading, not listening, not hearing, debating, squabbling, struggling, tussling, contending, altercating, opposing, disputing, fighting, combating, sparring,  pounding and then...a slugfest, free-for-all, fisticuffs, and all out war!
No matter how you look at it, it takes at least two.
No matter what, there are wounded.
No one comes unarmed.
Snide remarks, nicks, wounds form battle lines
ever waiting, at watch for the signal
and then...
New wounds, confusion, self-doubt, recriminations, mistrust, blood...
Such is life in the trenches of sinful humanity.
But there is ONE who can make a difference.
Drop the weapons. Kick them to the foot of the cross.
Look up.
He's the heart changer. He's our hope.
Look up.

Monday, April 18, 2011

There Are Days and There Are Days

                Being an elementary school teacher, there are days when you think there is not enough money in the world that's worth the noise and heartache. Then there are days when you can't believe you get paid to do it, it's that wonderful. This happened on one of the latter types of days.
        About twelve years ago, I moved from British Columbia to Ontario to take on a new teaching position. I taught a particularly precocious group of grade two students. The Ontario Curriculum required me to teach music. Well, I like what I like, but shamefully, except for about three years of piano lessons that my teacher begged me to quit when I was a preteen, my musical knowledge is limited at best. One of the curriculum objectives states that students, “express personal responses to musical performances.” That seemed easy enough. I came up with a plan.

        Each student was eager to sign up to the “My Favourite Song” program. All they had to do was to bring in a recording of a piece of music near and dear to them, tell why it was notable, and make known which instruments they could hear. I heard raunchy rock music, Inca instrumentals, hoedown music and a smattering of young pop singers. I even was privy to a few children's ditties. I was astonished at the variety of styles.
         Then one day it was my turn. I was all prepared. I started with a recording friends had sent me from Holland. They had taken part in a project called, “War Child,” - a musical fundraiser, to help children from war-torn countries. There were 2500 singers in their choir. I played the recording and the students had to guess how many people were singing. They could easily tell it was more than one, but the first guess was 10 singers and we played the “More Than That” game until we got to 2500. Wonderful.
         Then, in trying to instill in them an appreciation of all types of music, I told them they were about to experience something very special. I was excited to see their first reactions to the Three Tenors: Luciano Pavorotti, Placido Domingo and Hose Carreras singing “Nessun Dorma.” I was careful not to tell the meaning of this dramatic song, which was easy since it was of course being sung in Italian. I just told them the translation of the last line, "At dawn, I will win, I will win, I will win.” I think I told them the hero was going out in battle. As they listened, I allowed them to draw and colour. Crayons waxed along their pages as Luciano belted out the final lines.
         A wonderful little guy, whose mother got me to admit that yes, he DID ask more questions than any other child, said, “Mrs. D.?” I said, “Yes, Mark?” He said, “Well, I like them
- the three guys, but I like the three Stooges better.” I stifled a laugh and asked why. He told me the three stooges were funnier. It was one of the moments that make teaching worth it all. That young family left the school that year to move away and I've always
 wondered if Mark remembers that day. I always will.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lullaby and Good Night

If I had a dollar for every time I've said, "I'm so tired," in the last five years, I could have retired, (and maybe have gotten some sleep.) I've felt old and guilty and powerless over this constant dragging about. I've blamed diet, stress and sheer laziness, telling anyone who'd listen that when I come home from working all day, all I want to do is fall down on the couch and descend into a vegetative state. Complaining to my family doctor, he sent me for a sleep study. I was referred last August, got a call in October, went for the overnight ordeal on Boxing Day and got results the beginning of April. guess it - tired!  All this to find out that I have sleep apnea. How in the world did this happen?

The Dreaded "Darth Vader" mask
Upon hearing the diagnosis of "moderate to severe," and reading the doctor's notes to discover that I've been waking up as many as 67 times in an hour, I felt giddy with relief that no, I'm not crazy, and no, I am not lazy. I AM tired because I don't sleep well. I'm not an indolent slug. I just don't breathe well when I lay down. After my giddy relief subsided, reality set in.  I now have to wear a sleeping contraption. A heated hose stuck to a mask, bound about my head with my nose and mouth sealed in tightly. They estimate a full month to adjust to such and then alas....another sleep study.

I am trying to keep grateful....for the technology that might keep me from having a coronary or a stroke or high blood pressure. Technology that may actually help me to sleep. (It hasn't yet.) Even a major weight loss won't help much, I've been told, so it's time to (literally) suck it up!

Hopefully, next time you see me I'll be well rested, clear-thinking, brimming with creative surges and smiling!  Psalm 4:8 says, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD,  make me dwell in safety."  Thanks, Lord for your peace!