A Teacher's Prayer
A Teacher’s Prayer that I wrote five years ago and pray again this week.
Dear God, here they come,
twenty, forty, sixty, and more.
Oh God, steady my knees,
and nail my feet to the floor.
Help me radiate confidence,
to look as if I know what I’m doing.
Then, after all the adults have gone,
leaving their charges behind,
as I stand and look into their young faces,
grant me wisdom, and a heart
large enough to take in what I know;
what I see before me this morning:
Children blessed by two loving parents,
with attention visible in the new clothes;
and a summer vacation to write about
in our obligatory first essay of the year.
Children who live in two worlds,
mom’s house during the week;
dad waiting outside on Friday,
to whisk them away to weekend fun.
The child who lives with grandparents,
deeply loved, or maybe not;
who may have little idea where to send
our Mother’s day art project.
The child already – head>on arms>on desk>asleep,
he can never stay awake in class;
because he sleeps on the couch,
after everyone else goes to bed.
The child who hides under his bed,
whenever dad comes home drunk;
and the child who never gets away,
her small body abused; God help her.
Those who come across as the tough guy,
ready to fight any challenge;
the only way to survive in their world,
where muscle means everything.
The children embarrassed this morning,
wearing 25¢ thrift shop pants and shirts
with shoes that hurt their feet,
carrying last years’ backpack.
The children glad to be back in school,
to eat breakfast and lunch again;
and not spend all day at home
watching little brothers and sisters.
The child already wrestling with his sexual identity,
and the child already experienced beyond her years.
Oh, dear God, grant us the courage to look,
the wisdom to know how to teach,
and a heart big enough to love them all.
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