Whitney Houston is gone. But I remember when she was alive in my family’s kitchen. As a boy, I was awestruck by the power of a Sony radio. My parents kept it high on a shelf, up next to all those red and yellow cookbooks and the potted green ivy.
Once I reached a certain age, I was allowed to touch the radio. My fingers stroked its walnut wood casing. I experimented with those clockwise and counterclockwise movements, exploring a world that went far beyond my small Indiana college town.
There, in the kitchen while helping my mom with the dishes, I heard a voice hit a frequency of celebration that only a soul lost and then found could reach.
Surrounded by the toil of clean and dirty dishes, I fell in love with The Voice.
James runs past the front door of our church to find his coat. He sort of skids when he looks up and sees Jesus standing outside the tomb.
James slows, then stops, and pivots long enough to find the holes in the feet, and the ones at the wrists. He soaks up the image in the painting, quietly, without the help of adults. And then he’s off running again.
A blank page is often black and full of clouds. And when the veil of watery voices rolls across the moon like a dark tide, the writer in me struggles toward the light.
But the fog is thick and filmy, and there is no speaking or writing in its haze. A pale glow sinks, or settles, far beyond the margins, drowning out any light with negative self-talk, shadowy and opaque.
Telling me that I’m trapped. Not good enough. Even guilty.
I’ve been bludgeoning my students for years. It’s a hard lesson, but they’ve got to learn it.
“Look for the good,” I tell them, again and again, until they’re good and bloody.
So why am I so passionate in wielding this aphoristic club? Partly because, once upon a time, those daily swings of grace finally provoked me to get out of a pit. That movement first began with a single Post-it note nailed down to my desk at school. I determined to jot down a few good moments for which I could be thankful. In the beginning, I discovered them slowly.
Our daily interactions matter. As a high school teacher, I get very little personal interaction with adults. I spend most of my time with students, and even most of those encounters last for the time it takes to chew a small bite of sandwich.