|"Quiet Sunrise", oil, by Heidi Malott|
Recently, on a dull-looking day, I heard someone say that the sun wasn’t shining so well, and I immediately thought of the days in the classroom when my students and I don’t seem to be shining especially brightly. Those are the days when the wear-and-tear of academic life seems to let the life out of the classroom, and only quiet and tranquility are in the room, not delight or elation. Those are days – and they are not as unusual as I would wish – when a sort of winter freeze folds all of us up in muteness, and nothing is shining but the fluorescent lights overhead. On those days, the intelligence of all of us seems to be of a dismal kind, like the sun seems dismal on overcast days. What I want to remember, though, is that, like the sun that is always shining at its best and brightest no matter how much mist or cloudiness is present, my students and I have minds that constantly make light, moment by moment, whether we are aware of it or not. Obliviousness and distractions may seem to cover over the thoughts we think, but, behind our inattentiveness, they are as bright as rising suns every second of the day. In a sense, English class is always a clear and sunny experience, given the shining thoughts we all bring to it. We just have to see through our unawareness to the light.