At a performance in the school cafeteria a few weeks ago, spirit filled the room. If I could measure waves and fields of what I felt- I could have provided proof. What do I have? Just a few facts: That we came together, dogged by day-to-day drama. Money, cuts, clashes. Heavy-weight news would not let up.

However, where and how we stood in proximity to one another permitted an energy to jump from person to person. Chins lifted, eyes looked up, and a sudden cry went up! I might describe it as an affirming shock even though I don’t have words that express the occurrence. Hundreds, gathered in one room, connected. I don’t recall having felt a sensation similar to this one.

I don’t know what constitutes a mood. Could I find a way to see the color or shape of one? I do know that moods can spread. They transmit like energy and spread like fire. Whatever that energy passes through gets changed. When groups of children get together, they are themselves, but they are also another being born of the energy – and the fire – in numbers.

I have worked in places where intangibles seeped from everything – paint, furniture, a greeting or the lack of it. In schools we have called that which is unspoken the hidden curriculum. In one school I visited, in spite of the quotations from Gandhi and MLK Jr. on the walls, malice hovered in the spaces between people. The cheery and hopeful language posted everywhere did not hide an invisible truth.

So, how to tend to something invisible and often ignored?

On the playground today, a bright spirit came forward. I saw her among a group of second graders who danced in a ring under the slide. Delight and sunshine lit up their faces. And this same little third grader chose to sit on a bench, looking up and grinning as if she wanted to take it all in. No place else she’s rather be!

When I looked to the sky, I could see that Fall wanted to come in. I could smell it and see it in the angle of the sun. Cumulus clouds sat on the horizon, waiting. Jets passed over head. I had a bounce in my step after a week that I wanted to forget. And, not a shred of science to prove that an invisible juice flowed over the asphalt, linking us and making us whole – if only for twenty recess minutes.

I begin some days wishing for things I can’t predict or control. I call this the hope habit. Hope leads me astray most days, in a direction opposite to the one I would seek. I feel more anxious and less present. I am learning from the late Buddhist priest, Darlene Cohen, who recommended that people abandon hope – not because good things don’t happen, but because hope takes us away from just being wherever we are.

I hear her advising me to quit reaching. Open to what is there instead of what you wish for. Notice spirit in whatever forms it takes. To notice may be the closest I come to understanding what this wonderful intangible thing called spirit has been wanting to tell me.


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