End of the semester. The holidays. It all came together Friday within the elementary school in which I work.
To set the stage, at three a.m. I awoke to the sound of a thunderstorm reverberating through the cold air outside. Following that was the steady drum of rain on the roof. I unfolded from the warmth of the bed, got up to pull the curtain away from the window and peer outside. I could see the rain falling, dimpling the puddles on the patio. It was raining hard. I dove back into the warmth of the bed, pulled the covers up to my chin, and reveled in the unbelievable coziness.
It was dark and raining when I got up at 6:15, and very wet an hour later when I wanted to leave for work. My husband was going to drive me to work, and he got his truck stuck in the gelatinous mud on which he was parked. We took one of the cars, and made it just in time.
I plugged in the holiday lights of my classroom, and immediately a warm festive glow filled the room. The kids would arrive soon, and it was still almost dark because of the overcast. It was an amazing start to the day, and when the students arrived, they brought their excited chatter through the door with them.
“I heard the thunder in the middle of the night!” one said.
“My hands are freezing!” said another.
“My shoes got all muddy!” exclaimed another.
They also brought treats for the holiday party we would be having later in the day. I didn’t even mind that there were many pounds of sugar to be consumed! I wanted them to enjoy the day, the last day of school before the holiday break.
School started, they settled down a bit, and then we went to the assembly in the gym. The room filled with the exuberance and joy of kids before Christmas. We were one of the first classes to arrive, and I looked around. I noticed that the light was a little subdued to accent all the wonderful little multi-colored lights that decorated the stage. The red and green spotlights bathed the stage in the colors of the season, and it added to the kids’ anticipation.
The assembly is a monthly event held to recognize the positive achievements and examples of good character. It is always a special event, but because of the upcoming holiday, the school chorus performed after the awards. I watched the singers take the stage; several of the little girls were wearing sparkly headbands and shirts, and their little faces were glowing. Music is magic anyway, and when the accompanist, a student, began to play the piano, the mood in the room changed to wonder and appreciation.
It was a simple song, but a hallowed moment. The music blossomed, the love and warmth in the room flowed like warm honey, a river that pulled us willingly into its stream. It was an enchanting moment that I wanted to last for a long time. I thought, this is how it’s supposed to be, a positive, loving, special experience that these kids will remember forever. The lights, the music, the glint of the shiny ornaments in the spotlights, the beauty of the moment. The happiness and wonder I was reliving from years past was so strong for me, the tears almost welled up inside, choking me for a moment. I was also missing my mom, who loved the glowing lights, too.
It hasn’t been like this at our school for a long time, but now the love and innocent magic is there again for the kids to be a part of. There is an atmosphere of love and caring, a place where they are safe and can be themselves. All is calm, all is bright, I thought, at last. I was surprised at the strength of emotion that I felt, the love for these kids and hope for them to make something of themselves. I felt such joy that things were as they should be, and I hoped that all the kids could feel it, too. Their little faces were beautiful, lit by the inner light of innocence and childhood.
The music selections were all unique, and none had any religious connotation, just a meaning of beauty and colorful light, of peace and happiness. The musical rhythms were deep, and echoed through our hearts. Gradually, the program came to an end, and the music set us down softly into the rest of the day. Soon, it was time to go home, carefree and free, at least for the next two weeks.
When the break is over and they return to me like butterflies to a flower, I hope they are ready to really learn how to fly. This year is a pivotal one, it is when their futures are being formed. Within the nurturing chrysalis that our school has now become, I know we are giving them their wings.