“Nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.”
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”
When I’m making my way through a school day that seems stuck in dullness, I sometimes think of this line from Hopkins, and soon I’m starting, once again, to see the freshness in my students’ lives. It’s certainly true that any sense of tediousness in my classes is caused, not by anything in the students, but by my own confused view of them – a view that sees lifelessness where there is actually unspoiled vitality and creativeness. It’s easy to see drabness in the students, as easy as seeing just another sunset in endless shades of light spread across an evening sky. If my inner eyes are closed during class (as, sorry to say, they sometimes are), then I surely won’t notice the everlasting brightness of the students' faces and their spoken words. At this time of year, when nature seems to be settling into sleep as falling leaves leave the trees stripped and empty, it’s important to remember Hopkins’ insistence that “nature is never spent”, and it’s just as important to see this kind of endless freshness in my students’ lives. They may sit before me in class like silent stones, but there’s always a steady expansion of life inside them, a constant widening of the circles of understanding. There’s a “dearest freshness” in Room 2 –always – and it’s my essential task to see it and cherish it.
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