Lost and Found

Love. We need it now

Let’s hope for some

‘Cause, oh, we’re bleeding out

-The Lumineers

I have felt lost the last week. My mind has been swirling with confusion and my heart has been beating one clip faster. I’ve noticed when I look down that my hands have been shaking. I never doubted for a moment that we had it. And then for so many millions of us, our beliefs were shattered. The glass ceiling is intact right where it was yesterday and last week and where it has always been. The most experienced woman in the world lost the most important race to the most cruel candidate our country has ever witnessed.

As an educator, I cannot help but think we failed to educate our nation. We failed to listen to the people that lost jobs over the last three decades. We failed to notice that schools are seeing more and more working class children that need reduced and free lunch. We failed by shaming the White working class. We failed to teach our nation to be empathetic, to have open hearts, and to look outside themselves. We failed to teach our nation to stand up to bigotry and racism. We failed to make stories the center of our classrooms.

I decided to step away today. I’m sitting in a café grateful for the local chatter around me about soccer teams. The sound of the espresso machine whirring below. The lyrics and rhythm of The Lumineers coming out of the speakers turn my attention to hope.

The enchanting book Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet is on my lap. Elwyn Brooks White lived his life by observing the world before him even as a boy. He noticed a spiderweb in the barn on his farm in Maine and Charlotte was born.  He thought about the great wheel of life and death and trusted children with a story about mortality. He made all of his readers believe that a quest to find beauty is worth the effort. He created Fern who so boldly asked her father in the most famous of first lines, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” For over sixty years, Fern has shown us that words have power. That girls have power.

My tears fall on the pages of this beautiful contribution to the world. I cry with gratitude for the man and the writer. I cry for the hope he fills me with through his gentle reminders to turn to the world outside my window. I cry for the girls that need Fern as their hero and that saw Hillary as their champion. I cry because I want to believe that life is full of enchantment and beauty and mystery.

E.B. White offers us these comforting words: “I discovered…that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart…was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace.” The matters of our hearts are the source of our greatest strength and greatest hopes. In writing, I finally feel less lost for the first time this week.  E. B. White leaves me wondering, which of our students will create the next Fern? Who among them is the next Hillary?

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