The night before last, I could not sleep. Nothing new with that. I gave up, got up, and decided to go to school early. Instead of going into my office, I walked in the front door, out the back, and across the yard to the place I call my spot.

I go to this place on the far side of my school’s playground to collect my thoughts and relocate the horizon on confusing days. This particular spot is a sweet one. It looks out over the Point, parts of the Hill, and then, onto the Bay itself. I can see the cranes in the old shipyard, bent like ancient guardians, waiting for ships that won’t come in.

From the hilltop today, I could see the earliest glow of an orange sunrise warm the sky, lighting up a few wispy clouds overhead. The geometry of the streets below remained hidden in darkness. I leaned against the damp chain link, completing the loops of thought that kept me awake.

However, I got a small surprise on this day. It began with warmth that found a way into my bones. Then it warmed further until I wondered whether I might glowing from the top of my head. Well, this is different, I thought.

Then the worry left my body. The reaching left my arms. I had a moment where I lacked for nothing. Right here is enough! I said out loud.

How different from other times where I drove myself to tears by asking, hoping, wishing for some kind of rescue for myself and for these kids. In the glow of the sunrise, I saw myself as a small spark of consciousness. Though smaller than small, I am still part of everything. I am and I belong.

All of this came through before 6:15AM!

A parent had written me the day before, telling me that the school needed to decide who it served. He had said that the kids on the hill were holding us back. Let them go to school in a place that’s right for them, he had written. He asked for his child to be parted from the common herd. Divide this gifted child, from the slow ones. I could not imagine the kind of world that he asked for.

Sunrise allowed the toxin of those words to leave me. One tribe. All in. No escape. Just so. As the sky brightened, I felt room in me for appreciation. What I achieved arose through the way I was connected. I didn’t need to cling to any of it.

Then, I lifted my head and got a second surprise. It was bright enough now that I could see the hillside below. I could make out a woman looking toward the sunrise from her back porch. I saw another man, standing on his roof, looking skyward. And, I noticed a boy standing no more that twenty feet from me next to the bent tetherball pole- one of our fifth graders, Kamani, warming to the sunrise just as I was.  The sun lifted off the horizon and the day was on.

I slipped back into the building, dashed up the stairs, turned on the lights in the office and opened the window. No matter what I hoped for, the coming sequence would be whatever it wanted to be – an experience that the many of us would make together. But in that moment, I knew that I had enough light to carry on.



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6 Responses to Sunrise

  1. Dave September 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    This phrase struck me like a ton of bricks: “They asked to be parted from the common herd.”

    I am a father of a toddler and am only beginning to notice the debate about school options. Though we are a few years away from making school choices, we are committed to public schools and staying in the CIty. Many of our friends, however, think we’re delusional. But the real delusion lies in the idea that a child’s curriculum trumps the intangibles of learning how to live with others and how to make sense of the world– to appreciate the woman in the back porch, the man on the roof, and the 5th grader standing by the tetherball pole. These intangibles can’t be taught by self-selecting independent schools, no matter how much service learning is emphasized. And it’s sad to see, because everyone warms to the same sunrise, but not everyone will know it.

  2. Collin February 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    Feels like you’re hitting your inner/outer stride with this. So much going on, so simply and gracefully stated. Very zen and warm. What a nice combo.

  3. Terry June 24, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Life is such an adventure. And we are amazing in our ability to reach deep inside and find the beauty and peace that lets us be educators.

  4. Suki June 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I could feel that sun rising. And I could feel these words you wrote. Life is what it will be, and, it is what we make of it. Thank you.

    “No matter what I hoped for, the coming sequence would be whatever it wanted to be – an experience that the many of us would make together.”

  5. Suki June 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I sent your words to a friend who is living a huge break of her own right now. Here is what she said, “Thank you. You always seem to bring me words that heal when I need them the most.” And so, I pass on gratitude from both of us for your brave searching and sharing.

  6. Sandra June 24, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    What a lovely image…should be the start of a film (or the end), eh?

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