Well, it was back to work for me after a 2 week break. I woke up at 2 am on Monday morning from a dream which gave me hope at the same time as it let me down. I didn’t remember anything except this joyful feeling which came with one thought:
I remembered the dream with a chuckle when the alarm finally buzzed 4 hours later. What was that all about?! I wondered as I packed my lunch and headed back to see my students.
Dreams are interesting messengers in this life of ours. Sometimes they encourage and guide us, sometimes they terrify and warn us and sometimes they just leave us mystified with their bizarre images and symbols. As I re-entered the fast paced life of the class, the dream got left in the dust. My day job is a far cry from the solitary, reflective experience I know as writing.
Teaching is such a juggling act – trying to pull lessons off while interruptions of every kind are flying at you all at once, never mind kids who after the holidays can be as tired as their teacher. It requires equanimity… or at least the appearance of it! Some days the motto “Fake it till you make it” is my mantra. I wasn’t exactly overflowing in the equanimity department this week, and after a staff meeting reminding me of expectations in the weeks ahead, I found myself wondering about that dream. What about that “other” job of writing? I didn’t actually think the dream was meant to be taken literally, but I found myself less content as reality felt like a pair of too-tight shoes.
I knew God was looking out for me when I tackled the questions for our Wednesday night study and they addressed my temptation to want to be somewhere else. In the passage from Mark’s gospel, Jesus is walking with his disciples. He told them in plain language about the days ahead – that he would be put to death and resurrected – but his disciples’ thoughts were elsewhere. Instead of taking in Jesus’ words, they began arguing about which one of them was the greatest!
Ever the teacher, Jesus gathered them and responded to their squabbling with a lesson that rang true for me: “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
Hearing this tempered my squirmy thoughts and helped me focus. I realized I had gotten afflicted by the “Me-my-mine” syndrome again, wanting be first place like the disciples, wistfully wanting the “glory” of a cushier life. I chalked up my feelings of discomfort to the “back to school” blues and set my sights on “doing the right thing” and being a servant. I prayed for stamina in each day and like any one of my runs, I stuck with it. Nothing heroic about it, since I’m sure every teacher in the building was doing the same thing, but some days it’s these small battles that must be fought and re-fought on the path to becoming a wee bit wiser.
I mentioned the dream at our Wednesday night discussion and I was surprised by Paul’s quick interpretation. “Yes!” he chimed, “you do write for a living – it keeps you alive.”
His words seemed so obvious and yet it hadn’t even occurred to me. It wasn’t a dream about a source of income, but a reminder of where the well is if I’m going to make it through the school year. It’s that constant searching through the week, looking for God in each setting I’m in – that’s my true living. It’s worth more than any paycheck because it keeps me alive with meaning and hope.