Guns are not the answer Teachers are begging for

Guns are not the answer teachers are begging for. Teachers are begging for a lot of things, the right to carry a gun into a classroom is not one of them.

I taught english in three different high schools over the course of 9 years. In that time I asked for a lot of things, never once was one of those things a gun. I sometimes debated my students with the policy “Teachers should have the right to carry and use tasers in the classroom” but I taught them to debate well, and they always beat me. Weaponizing teachers is a terrible idea.

The thing that is so infuriating about the idea of weaponizing teachers is that it intones a level of trust and respect for the institution of teaching the public abandoned before I ever got my license to teach. It is infuriating to me that the same politicians who voted to make tests the end all be all because teachers could not be trusted to actually teach children, are now so trusting in teachers they would allow a teacher to carry a loaded gun into a classroom?

You have got to be kidding me.

There are a million things I needed trusted about and was not given that trust. I needed trusted that I knew my kids well enough to know when they needed to ditch the lesson plans and write it out because something terrible had happened. Emotional development was “not part of my job” and “not standards based” (even though I was a language arts teacher and we were writing and talking about it and very often attaching it to the experiences of the characters in the book we were reading) and “not part of my job.”

I needed to be trusted when I said a kid was not okay, especially a kid I knew from ninth and tenth grade. I needed to be trusted that my understanding of that kid was not a one off, that I had tried to talk to them. I needed social workers and counselors who were not overwhelmed by paper work and scheduling and all the paperwork things that take up their whole job. I needed a mental health professional in the high school, not a list of people that I could email parents who may or may not care or have the capacity or insurance money to be able to do anything about it.

The idea of having teachers carry guns is a way, I think, of ackowledging that teachers are the front lines of protecting kids, and that much is true. Teachers ARE the front lines of protecting kids. But this is not the way we should be protecting kids, not with guns, not like that.

We can protect kids if you listen to us. I sat in a classroom and really got to know my students. I knew who was having a bad week and whose dog died. I knew who needed me to put my hand on their back and who needed to be told to take a lap around the hallway. I knew them. I knew when something was off, I knew who was a danger to themselves and others. I knew how to teach them so I could have this kind of relationship with them and also talk about Shakespeare.

I did not know all my kids like this, but enough. There were 5 other periods in the day. A kid could connect with at least two adults a day. But I was told this was a waste of instructional time. Why did I ask them how their day was when I could spend four more minutes teaching about gerunds? Why would I get to know them? Emotional intellegence is not in the standards? Waste of time. Waste of time. Now you want us to shoot them?

There are so many things that teachers need. You are right to assume we are on the front lines of keeping the kids safe. Can you please just give teachers the resources they are asking for? They don’t need guns, they need you to trust them as experts in their field, as experts who educate their kids. They do need your support and your trust to do emotional well being work with the kids. Teachers don’t need guns.


Star Dust to Star Dust

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For the first time I put ashes on people’s heads as their pastor. I have such affectionate feelings for my congregation I can hardly stand it. Like a new mom trying to show everyone I can how sweet this church is. And I put ashes on their head to remind them that they die. I did it to my own children also, who looked back at me with their eyes that look like mine and my mothers, with teeth and personalities they are still growing into.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

One of the things that sets Christianity apart is that we talk about death. You can get community and zen moments and laughter and thoughtfullness or yoga or book club. No one at your mommy kiddo strollercize is going to remind you that one day you will die. I guess they could but that would be awkward.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I think it is important to remember that we all die, that death is a part of this thing, that we cannot out run it, out smart it, out invent it. We will die. This thing here that we are doing is not forever. There was something before. There is something after. That something is God. We belong to God.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Last night I was reminded that also from God we belong, and to God we will return. We come from a God who made us from dust and breathed life into us. We come from a God who is molding us like clay….like wet dust. We are not finished, we can be reworked, we are from clay, and we are being worked by a master and even if we mess it up it can be reworked.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Dust in my house is useless and gross, but in God’s hands dust is the beginning of all. It is like molecules and atoms, the building blocks of life. God uses dust to make us, and we will return to dust one day. And God uses dust to make the stars, the stars that sing of His glory. The stars that shine in the darkness. The stars that lead us home.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Star dust, wet dust, beauty in the hands of God.



Persisting and What the Church is For

I had the most horrible procedure I have ever had on Wednesday. I told the very pregnant woman shoving the tube down my throat that I would WAY rather give natural birth again than do the thing where they test my esophagus. Then we talked about my favorite birthing books and how she could TOTALLY do this, because I am always me.

My esophagus failed spectacularly. Even my body doesn’t do anything half way. If it only exerts 60 percent of swallowing pressure you need surgery. Mine exerts 0 percent swallowing pressure. Just a free fall down to my stomach.

With my new church and my school work and my already full plate we don’t really have room for an emergency. We don’t have room for a mom who is tired because she isn’t getting enough calories. We just don’t have room.

It is really easy to blame myself in all of this. If I could just not have a broken esophagus. If I had not over filled my plate. If I could just write faster, work harder, do better. If I could just be more then I would not be behind on the laundry and desperate for a nap. If I could just….

Here is what I know to be true: This new church gig I picked up is so perfectly orchestrated for me I am sure this is what God has. I am sure I am supposed to be in seminary. I am sure my family is well cared for. I am sure I am supposed to be doing all of the things. I am not sure how the dog is going to get walked.

The really really brave thing I did today was ask. I had my church set up a meal train. I asked my people to walk my dog. I invited people to pre-blend me soup. I cannot believe how hard this is for me.

I love helping people. Making food for people is my love language. There is no meal train I do not want to sign up for, no person in my church who I would not want to make a casserole for. There is nothing you could do to make me feel more loved than to feed me or my family. If I am supposed to do all the things I know I am supposed to do I also need to let people love me. Not from afar, but actually in my own house with food and dog walking and if I get really brave laundry folding.

I have persist for this year, and I have been given impossible things to persist through on my own. But maybe I don’t have to do it that way.

When I was in the third grade my mother had a seizure and could not drive. My predominant memories of that time are of casseroles with noodles and meatballs and red sauce, of being picked up and dropped off by people that I knew vaguely as my mom’s friends from choir. When people ask me about what the church should be, this is still what I tell them. Church is for casserole drop off and getting your kids to piano lessons when you can’t.

What a gift to my girls. Church is for walking your dog and bringing your mom blended soup and meals when she can’t cook. Hallelujah. Together we can do this.