Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Miracle on 34th Street

I love Christmas movies.  I start planning my evening movie schedule from Thanksgiving until Christmas eve beginning with Miracle on 34th Street and ending with It's A Wonderful Life. I am taken but the beauty of these stories every year.  They talk about miracles both physical pnes and those that happen in our hearts.  They remind us, miracles are real.  I watch small miracles each and every day.

The students in my classroom are so often viewed through the lens of what is missing, a struggle, or different. But simply looking from a different angle you can see perseverance, success, bravery and, a miracle.  You see, we all forget how amazing that moment was when we first stood on our feet, took a step and walked. We forget what it was like to say a word and have the listener know what we said.  I don't remember the first word I read, the first time I wrote my name, or the first time I counted to 100.  But I remember the first time a young man spoke an original sentence, the first word spoken by a young lady with an assistive technology device, the first time so many different students wrote their own name without an adult, the meeting in which the parent cried because the child exceeded their greatest hope.  You see, anything really is possible.  The magic is in believing that it can happen.

In Miracle on 34th Street it was not until the young girl played by Natalie Woods believes that her greatest wish comes true.  "Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to."

I hope this season you find your faith and, in turn the magic of a miracle.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Those Who Can

A small gift to all the teachers in the world.

Those who can - make failure bear fruit,
bring fruit to seed and plant seeds
for tomorrow.

Those who can - turn injury to endurance,
endurance to dreams and give dreams

Those who can - shape hate to awareness,
awareness to grace and crown grace
with compassion.

Those who can - massage fear to faith,
bend faith to courage and sculpt
courage into wings.

Those who can - subdue chaos with meaning,
define meaning as light and translate
light to vision.

Those who can - give knowledge reason,
fashion reason into tools, use tools as keys
so that doors become opportunities.

Those who can - give charity character,
invest character with strength and
free strength to ministry.

Those who can - define love by their acts,
spin their acts to hope and with hope
give children a reason to celebrate.

Those who can - teach.

Written by Gavin Kayner and published in Teaching K-8 March 1993
as true today as then

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Matters of Faith

I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  Twinkling lights, trees covered with ornaments from my childhood, my career, and the ones I share with my husband, Christmas music on the radios and at every store, Santa Claus, fancy dresses, and candles.

Candles are one of the most symbolic symbols of the season for me.  In New England, you will find a candle in every window, lighting the way to home.  At the stores you can find candles to give as a gift to everyone from good friends to colleagues.  My home is scented by candles from the day of Thanksgiving until every last decoration is packed away.  All of this culminates with the most amazing candle moment, the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

When I was young, about 6 years old, I was going to sing in the church children’s choir on Christmas Eve for the candlelight service and my mom made me the most beautiful navy blue velvet dress.  I loved the dress and knew that I was wearing the dress that everyone else would notice.  It shimmered and made me feel grown up, or at least like I was 8.

But then, they gave me a candle to hold while I sang.  I couldn’t believe the magic and the science of that burning flame.  Each face was highlighted by a single glow and yet, in that glow there was a magic puddle of wax.  As I examined the candle and sang to my church, I also poured the melted wax down the front of my blue velvet dress, all while my mom watched.  We laugh about it today and she talks about the candle and my singing more than my ruining the dress.  She does because it was Christmas Eve, the day a small child came to bring us a gift from God. 

My faith is important and has shaped many memories such as that night.  My faith helps guide me and listen to my heart.  I passionately believe that all people should be able to choose their faith and how they celebrate.  But have we made religion accessible to individuals with disabilities?

I am watching one family try to figure out how to have their son’s Bar Mitvah when he is still struggling with communicating in English.  I watched a family struggle to find a church where their daughter would be able to wander through the sanctuary during the service.  I was blessed with the invitation to witness the baptism of one of my students, but he wasn’t able to really speak about the event in a meaningful way later as the communication had not yet been taught.

Where do we but faith in the list of things a child needs to learn?

Have you found a way to include your child with a disability in your family’s faith in a meaningful way?  I would love to know how to help families and children in their spiritual journey.  And maybe, someday, they will tell us about their favorite holiday symbol.