I came home from school the other day with a story. I was helping with car line duty and enjoying two girls who were last to be picked up. I talked to them about their matching green eyes. I teased them that the sugarcane tractor on the highway was coming to pick them up. Then an old car pulled up and inside was an unkempt woman with a scowl on her face. Could this be the mother of these precious children? Her expression never changed as the girls bounded up to the car and greeted her with a cheerful, “Hi, Momma.”
When I told my husband this story, I said, “I judged her.”
He said, “We judge people. We pay attention. And when you are someone who pays attention, you see lots of ugly in the world. If you are paying attention, you also see lots of beauty. The world is both terrible and beautiful.”
I have a wise husband. His words have stayed with me all week.
As I worked with a student who was having trouble writing, I kept making suggestions. “What about this? What about that?” I told him to come to me with his long, sad face,and I simply said, “Can you tell me the truth about why you are not writing?”
He said, “I don’t want to write what you said.”
In my eagerness to “help,” I had actually stifled him.
“I get it. You want to write about your own ideas. Absolutely, that is what you should do.”
I must pay attention. This is my work. This is my vocation. This is my calling.
When I pay attention, I see
The way the setting sun sends a beam down the bayou.
I see colors in the sky (more than just blue),
A shy boy standing near the wall at recess,
Birds on a wire,
The man with a cane wince in pain,
A teacher’s tired impatience,
Sunflowers in the sunlight,
A driver’s insulting gesture.
I see the good.
I see the bad.
But I don’t stop
this is my endless and proper work.