Searching for Solace

My role as an educator in an interesting one. No two days the same. I’ve noticed lately that many tears are shed in my office: by students, by parents and sometimes even by staff. The world we live in is certainly a challenging one. Many people are seeking comfort or solace in their lives. Many are out of sorts. Many have lost their way.

I wonder about the pressures in society these days. Are they reasonable? Where do they stem from? How can we find balance and shalom in our lives?

Some find solace in music, others in physical activity, still others in prayer. Whatever our outlet, it is essential that we strive to live our lives with balance and teach our students to do the same. Ultimately, I feel honoured that individuals feel safe enough to shed their tears in my office. Sharing emotion can be the first step to feeling better. As Renee Peterson Trudeau has said, “Often we have to break down to break through.” This too shall pass.


This week was nothing short of surreal. After a week of sitting in a hospital watching the goings-on, I have realized that I wouldn’t (actually couldn’t) work in a hospital in any capacity. I just couldn’t hack it. And yet, for others, this is their passion, their calling even.

I met a wonderful young man who I admire greatly. He is an ambulatory specialist and works with patients in acute care. No matter the gender or age, he is able to connect and relate to those he works with. His personable, non-judgemental nature allows the sick to engage in conversation and momentarily forget where they are and why they are there. He treats all he works with as people not patients.

Coincidentally, I was encouraged to read more about Pope Francis today. In a book entitled Lead With Humility, Jeffrey A. Krames (a non-Catholic incidentally) speaks to Pope Francis’ personal mission and style: “We see how he embraces all of God’s creatures, including – and especially – the meekest and weakest among us, and creates an environment in which all can thrive.”

I don’t know if any of those I encountered last week were Catholic or know of Pope Francis’ mission. I do know that many of them lead with humility, maintaining dignity in situations where dignity is easily lost.

In Pope Francis’ own words, “If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world.”

Perseverance – his and mine

I work with many struggling young readers. For most, the daily focused work, along with the excellent teaching of the classroom teachers, is enough to give them the little boost they need. They may never catch up to their peers, but they certainly make gains.

Yet there is one little boy who I work with each day that makes few gains. It’s not that he’s not trying. It’s not that I’m not trying. Despite continual repetition and the pulling of strategy after strategy out of a hat like a magician, he cannot retain what we are teaching.

He does not know the alphabet: he is in grade two. The letters are a huge road block to his success. Reading is difficult when you don’t even remember the first letter of your name not to mention all of the others.

His frustration is reaching new heights. He’s no dummy. He sees those around him with access to the written word and he hangs his head in shame. The tears come too sometimes.

My frustration is mounting too. Not with him. With myself. Why can’t I find the key to unlock the door for him? The various keys I have used with many others over the years are not working for him. It is exciting to see the eventual glimmer of hope or the moment when students walk through the door of the literate. He and I haven’t had that moment yet. One day soon I hope…