Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

Trying Times

I'm a substitute teacher.  Not exactly the exciting title I dreamed of as an ambitious high school yearbook editor.  I didn't set my sights on the White House, Broadway or the boardroom, but I hadn't ruled out the possibility of some fame and fortune, even if the Pulitzer Prize selection committee never called.

I consider myself a freelancer.  The title "substitute teacher" is associated with victims and villains: The pitiful soul tormented by a group of devious hellions, the disinterested chair filler who reads a novel while her students play poker in the corner (and who later shows up in a viral video); and the crone who took lessons from the witch in "Hansel and Gretel."

On the other hand, I think Mary Poppins was a freelancer.  Mary was a free agent who chose her assignments carefully.  She dropped into situations with a spoonful of sugar and a satchel filled with common sense.

But titles don't really matter much once the door to the classroom closes and you're left alone with 20 or so children, armed only with a substitute folder and some lesson plans.  Sometimes things click, the children learn, harmony reigns, and you walk out of the building feeling like a master, a guru, the Child Whisperer.

Other days, not so much.

That was the case with a class of fifth-graders I worked with not long ago.  They weren't bad kids, but they loved to talk.  A lot.  I've seen this sound wave phenomenon before: A conversation or two bubbles up during a lesson.  I call out the offenders and move on.  Things are quiet for a few moments, then more children start chatting.  I put on my Sergeant Stryker persona (a John Wayne character) and begin doling out warnings, followed by penalties as prescribed by the teacher's discipline system.

But still the talking continues.  It's a tide of sound, rushing in, receding, then rushing in again, each wave a bit louder than the last.  The students seem incapable of silence; it's as if they're overwhelmed by the need to verbalize every thought passing through their minds.

By the end of my day with the class in question the talking had subsided---finally---and I was able to drop my tough-guy facade and enjoy a bit of conversation with the students.  (One young lady revealed to me that every situation is improved if you wear a cape.  Maybe I'll try that next time I pay my electric bill.)

Several girls asked to leave  "Welcome back" messages for their teacher on the whiteboard.  (You don't know what you've got till it's gone...)  I read them after they left and one in particular jumped out at me:

A short note, good news mingled with an apology, probably intended to blunt the effects of a bad report written by the substitute.  It has stayed with me, and I've thought of it often this Holy Week.

No matter how hard I try I can't be perfect.  This has been a lesson a lifetime in the learning.  Thanks to Jesus of Nazareth, Whose resurrection I celebrated today, I don't have to be.  He's already paid the penalty for all the times I've stumbled.  I only have to learn to dance to His rhythm rather than trying to force the music to follow my own beat.

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

Voice Lessons

For Buck