Monday, June 22, 2009

The Longest Day

The Summer Solstice is a special time to me. For a few short hours before sunset, it seems as if there is magic in the air.

I first noticed this phenomenon at the beginning of the decade. I used to take a pet hedgehog out for evening walks in the flower bed under a huge shade tree. Watching the little creature dig for slugs and bugs was relaxing during a stressful time.

Under our large shade tree the sun's rays peeked between the leaves and lit the yard in a way that it did only once a year. Blades of warm grass stuck to my bare feet and I reveled in the moment. Then darkness fell and the magic was all but gone.

Ever since, I have make a point to be outside during sunset on the Summer Solstice. As long as it was sunny, I was not disappointed.

Last summer I spent the Solstice at Natchez Trace State Park, in TN. It was a lovely day, probably the last really worry-free day I can remember. That was the last full day of my summer vacation. Just a few days later I learned that, due to low student enrollment, my contract to teach would not be renewed.

First, came the feeling of failure as rejection after rejection piled up. Even public schools had a hiring freeze. Next, there was the trauma of unemployment. Then, I became underemployed, underpaid, and eventually all our hours were cut! My ex-husband was diagnosed with cancer and died. A dear friend came out of remission. A little over a week ago, he died also.

I didn't get to tell that friend that I got the new job we had been praying about. Last Solstice I had no idea what the future held for me. Now I am looking forward to a new job and a new school adventure. Maybe things are changing for me. For almost 10 years now I have felt that 2010 would be an amazing year for me. That is funny, since 2009 tested my faith.

This year I sat in my lawn chair under my shade tree, watched the sunset, and thought about all that had happened. I considered what the future might hold and remembered the verse in the Gospel of John: Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid. Soon, I was sitting in the dark and the fireflies were dancing around me. The Summer Solstice magic was gone.

Hope remained.

I love the Summer Solstice. Please share your Solstice memories.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Last Saturday I attended a manicure & pedicure party with some friends. It was kind of like the old slumber party days where we painted our nails and did each others hair. Only now we had professionals working on us and the goal was to de-stress. Relaxing music played in the background and scented candles perfumed the room.

On Sunday we all wore sandals to church to show off our freshly painted nails. I do enjoy my Sunday School class!

On Monday I received a call I have been waiting for months
to get. The supervisor of a small private school confirmed that I have a position for next fall. In two months I'll have a new job!!!

The people I spent Saturday and Sunday with were of great support during the long struggle of this past year. Many good people have given me encouragement and have prayed for me. Family and even visitors to my blog have left me messages of encouragement.

Even before I received the confirmation call, I realized how fortunate I was to have a support system--family and friends--to help me through.

Thank you all!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Racism Hurts

I work in the city. That makes me a minority. Functioning as a subculture is stressful.

When I was a school teacher I was surprised that a parent would be quick to believe outlandish stories that problem children would invent. Just before report card time, children often said just about anything to discredit me. I was fortunate enough to work at a school that had video cameras to prove my innocence. Still, it always bothered me that parents were so quick to believe the accusations.

I work at a daycare center right now and spend hours attending to precious infants. The ratio, by law, is 4 children per adult, so I am seldom in the room without another staff person. It usually doesn't bother me that many of the parents ignore my presence and speak only to the other staff person. I just let it slide and continue to care for the babies.

--But last week I wasn't so cool about things. I had grown attached to a very inquisitive, active baby, not yet a year old. I understood that she needed a little extra love because her active nature tried the patients of others. The only thing that slows her down is illness and she was often sick. This little girl and I bonded.

I learned that Katura was going to attend a new daycare center. I felt the change would be good for her, but would still miss that big smile that greeted me every morning.

Katura's last day arrived and she was sick. She slept through the morning but woke around 12:00. I rocked her most of the afternoon until I was transferred to work in the school-age classroom. Fortunately, I caught sight of Katura's mom.

"Please bring Katura to me so I can tell her good-bye," I asked. In fact, I asked her twice. Mom promised to bring her little girl to my room to say bye.

I waited and waited and waited. When I went to the nursery, the family was gone. I was left feeling embarrased and hurt in front of all my co-workers.

I wept that night and a few times since. Why couldn't this woman believe that I sincerely cared for her child? Would she have treated me differently if we had both been the same color? Only God knows.