Tuesday, January 24, 2012


In religious circles, it’s usually agreed that grace is a gift from God, but in my English classes grace seems to come more from caring hearts and strong minds, more from some superforce inside and all around us than from what I usually think of as God. It is truly “amazing” to sit with my students and feel their hearts unfolding a little as we read and discuss a chapter in Dickens, or to listen as the students’ say what their young minds have suddenly or slowly brought to the surface. There’s no explaining where these thoughts or feelings come from, except to say they are somehow “given” to us, my students and me, moment by moment in every class. We don’t consciously create the fresh ideas that evolve in each class. We don’t say, “Now I am going to make this specific thought”, but rather the thoughts seem to think themselves up, sort of the way the weather works out its patterns in its own mysterious ways. We are all under the sway of the sunshine and cloudy skies that come our way, and the same is true of the ideas and emotions that seem to be grace-fully made especially for my youthful students and me as we sit in my classroom and pay attention to the powerful voices of our hearts and minds.

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