“Rex and Anna hurried away through the sunshine which was suddenly solemn to them.”
-- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda
I was struck by the phrase “solemn sunshine” this morning because it brought to mind the puzzling world I face each day in English class. As I glance around at my teenage students, I see both sunshine and solemnity, both the joyousness of childish life and the gravity of heavily burdened boys and girls. There’s summer on one girl’s face and dark December on another’s. It’s always that way, day after day – always a mixture of the lightness of being 14 and the weary seriousness of being 14. I need to remember this when I’m teaching. I may come into the classroom carrying the inner light of the love of my grandchildren, which is fine, but what about the student in the second row whose sense of distress knows no boundaries, or the girl in the back who gives nothing of her kindness to anyone, ever? To these two kids, the sunshine I’m feeling inside must seem as solemn as a memorial service as it spreads out from me (which a teacher’s moods inevitably do). Even a bright and breezy poem can seem as burdensome as bricks on your shoulders if you bring a heavy heart to it. I’ll try to keep this in mind tomorrow. If sunlight lays itself across the blossoming trees outside my classroom windows and all seems heartening and hopeful, I’ll try to remember that there may be, right there in the sun-drenched room, some students whose sorrow makes even the brightest of days seem bleak.
© 2010 Hamilton Salsich