Monday, September 12, 2011

Grief Points

Yesterday I was sitting in church listening to our pastor talk about "grief points."  He posed the question... What are your grief points?  Death of a loved one.  Loss of a good friend.  A tragedy in your family.  He got us thinking a bit about how we've dealt with our personal grief points and moved forward... filled with faith, hope, and love.  I spent some time reflecting on the points in my life when I was grieving and I can filter each one through those three words.
     He reminded us of the grief points our nation has experienced, there have been many... most recently the events of September 11, 2001.  And how, although we can never forget the events of that horrific September morning, we've found strength to move forward as a nation.  Not forgetting, but moving forward.  Each of us dealing with the tragedy in our own way... filtering things through our own beliefs systems.
     He read us Paul's words, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13
     Last night, as my wife and I watched television, we chatted about the amazing stories that emerged from across the nation in response to 9/11... and the events that unfolded across this great country.  Amazing stories... of faith... of hope... and of love!  
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Most of my fourth graders were born in 2001, so on Friday I spent a few simple minutes talking to them about the events of that day.  I reminded them it was important that they go home and talk to their parents. 
     I told them I was on my way to an all-day staff developer's meeting that morning and heard the news on the radio.  I remember driving to the foothills and watching the temperature gauge in my car rising, little by little.  When I arrived at the destination, obviously we canceled our meeting (many of my fellow colleagues tried to reach their loved ones across the country, including family members who worked in Manhattan).  So, I drove home to see my own children, but on the way out of the hills, my car's water pump went out... and I spent the rest of the morning waiting for a tow truck to pick me up in a Safeway parking lot.  It gave me plenty of time to craft an entry in my writer's notebook, a simple reflection of what I still didn't know was going on across our nation.
     I shared several entries from Messages to Ground Zero with my students on Friday.  It was compiled by Shelley Harwayne.  A brilliant collection of writings and drawings from children that she, as superintendent, collected and categorized.  If you haven't seen it, you should get a copy.  It's a brilliant tribute!  And, it's told through the voices of children.   Beautiful.
     I also shared three poems I saved that my third and fourth graders wrote when we returned to school in November (we were tracked off - year round school).  I'm so glad I saved them... enjoy their words!

I always thought of firefighters as people
who save other people from fires,
but now I think a lot more than that
when I hear the word

I think of brave men and woman risking
their lives for others.

I think of people who were
searching through rubble hoping
to find someone alive.

I think of going into that
burning building.

Most of all, I think of the day
when terrorists
took over our lives and hearts. 

September 11, 2001 is a day I’ll never forget.

 I don’t think anyone will forget that terrible day,
but what ever happens,
those fire fighters
will always be there to protect
our beautiful country.
Ashley I.
November 2001
The Terrorist

Planes crash.  Children scream.
I turn to see a burning building. 
I shiver--part angrily, part scared.

Questions pop up like popcorn,
but none I can answer.

I wake up to find that I’m safe
in my bed and my family is all right.
I try to fall asleep again, but I can’t stop thinking about the terrorist.

I shiver once more.
Rowan C.
November 2001

The Flag Still Stands Tall
The Moment Strikes. 
The horror comes.
Terrorist pictures run through my mind.
As I watch the t.v. blanklishly, I wonder,
What will happen next?
I look in the background to see
the flag still stands tall.
Ashley W.
November 2001