Day 3: Lights, Water and Gratitude--#Sol16
When I am working alone in my classroom before, after school or during my prep, I do not turn on the lights. Several wonder why I work in the "dark" or by natural light.
I am a daughter of parents born in a country where electricity is either scarce or not properly allocated. I have not studied this problem. I do know that during my stays in Haiti when after a blackout the lights come on or the fridge starts rumbling, I can hear neighbors exclaim, "Yo bay lumye-a." They have given us lights. I always wonder who is this "they." The government, the gods...The same way they give light, they can take it. Indeed as the radio goes silent and the once lit room extinguishes into darkness, I can hear, "Yo pran lumye-a." They have taken the lights. As if it is theirs to take. From my humble understanding, I am not talking about rational and fair allocation. I am referring to random seizing or ceasing of the lights. Students sitting outside under lamp posts if the candles have melted before the lessons are learned or the families’ gas lamps are empty before the essays are written. Students sitting under stars and a halo of swirling flies as they recite the next day’s lesson.
So, I cannot have lights on just for me in a my classroom when I am prepping when I remember the classroom with broken desks, the mud floors, and the hungry faces of the kids I worked with during my determined ambition to help and help, but here I am scrolling an Eno Pen which magically writes in colors. Here I am washing my hand in bathroom sinks that let the water flow even when I am done washing my hand, but that water. It could fill a cup for that little girl who reached the communal water fountain just as the last drip came falling down like a tear. The crying lost girl standing with an empty blue bucket this morning on that crowded street lined with tin-roof houses. That water could fill her cup...And the water I turn on before I get into the shower, so the water can be hot by the time I step into the one luxury I have lately, a hot shower.
I cannot lie. I love hot steaming showers. I love long showers. I have to push myself to step out of the shower. I have to remember the small children, the yellow, blue, green buckets or stained gallons. Walking behind the children, I notice the strain in their arms as the heavy gallons pull down their wrists, or I notice the heavy bucket pressing down on their head cloth as the older kids with such poise carry buckets of water on their heads. And then, here I am letting water flow down the drain: hot water at that. A kid in an orphanage in which I volunteered once drew a picture of a woman, a bucket, and a fountain. There was also a palm tree in the background. He did not know how to write, but he asked me to write: “She is crying. She has water in her bucket, but no one to help her lift it unto her head.” I did not understand the problem at first, but he patiently explained that once you lift a heavy bucket of water over your head without a pair of extra hands, most likely the water you took the time to collect will just spill. I really need to cut my shower time. So many buckets...So many gallons….Yes, that’s right the title of this piece is, “Lights, Water, and Gratitude.” Oh, gratitude does come in...One morning I was taking a shower. I was having a difficult week. To make it "worse", the water was not warming up to my liking. It was tepid. I love to talk to God in the shower, so I said, “Please God. I am going through a tough time. At least, give me some hot water.” As I pleaded with God, the tepid water that usually magically turns hot after my conversations with the “man upstairs” stayed lukewarm. I kept prolonging my shower thinking God would not let me stand dripping cold and wet...I smugly thought, God’s got my back. I am just going to turn my back to the shower head and slowly I will feel the spray of hot water poking and zapping away at all my stress points. As I turned my back on the shower head, I knew I could trust God. But, instead on my back, lukewarm water slapped me almost jokingly. Really, God. Okay, I thought as I shut off the water and reached for the towel. That’s okay, God. And just as I was about to start being spoiled frustrated about all the things I had to juggle that morning--making sure my father was ready to go to the memory-impaired center, making sure my son and father had eaten breakfast, making sure--, I realized have I ever thanked God for all the days the water has been steaming hot? Have I ever expressed gratitude as the steaming water just melted the stress away, so on that tepid water morning day, I said, “Thank you God for all the other hot water morning days. Thank you.” And thus, under a lukewarm shower, dripping wet and quickly turning cold as I reached for my towel, I realized that gratitude makes even a lukewarm shower feel like the Grace of God.