Light

Dark clouds came in the office today – on Jaime’s face.  He plunked himself down across from me into a little kindergarten chair (the only seat remaining). He had set aside the last day of school to sock Alex in the nose twice, calling him a few choice names, and claiming that he hit him by accident. For his acts of aggression and for being a bad liar, I confined Jaime to the little chair to await his mother’s arrival. There he remained, arms folded with I’m-mad lips scrunched up tight and blue.

A scowling Jaime, however, opened my eyes to the presence of light everywhere else. Full sun came in, delivered in slices, through open blinds. Unchecked grins entered and exited on children’s faces as they sang sweet good mornings. Light, like invisible honey, splashed through the room and sank into everyone’s bones. All but Jaime permitted the arrival of summer to provide a lift. Jaime, since he refused to speak, would have to fend for himself.

Light filled classrooms, too. In one room children made little goodbye cards to each other by gluing bright paper suns onto green and yellow skies. In a second room, a group of first graders circled around me to give me a group hug. In their upturned faces I saw not one shadow. Then, when I returned to the office, I found Jaime, still unmoved, though still surrounded by the abundance of light, love, and laughter. His storm persisted.

I’m learning a lot about light. For a child, light – the kind that comes from within –  holds the same relative importance as other forms of internal weather. Little ones experience light and darkness as if they were different parts of the same day. Light that brings joy can spread from child to child. It can also leave as it entered. It’s all the same.

For bigger people, we come to prefer one over the other. Love – one form of light that we exalt  – is much preferred to anger, jealousy, or hatred. We cling to this light, we clutch it, keep it, pull it inside, and crave for it to last forever. When it slips from our fingers and back to the void, we fill the empty places  with the stuff that rains from old wounds, – clouds of self-protecting spites slapped with what passes for  wisdom or experience.

A kindergarten girl, Angelica, brought a cupcake to Jaime just after lunchtime. She stood in front of him, holding the pink-glazed bit of delight no more than six inches from his red, wet nose. He scowled at her, but Angelica did not back up. She just sparkled and said to him – do you want my cupcake? Dark clouds parted, he pulled his hands from his coat pockets, and accepted.

That’s how light entered Jaime that day. From child to child. That’s how light can enter any day, poured out from a giving heart into a needing one. Dark clouds pass. Sun rises. Every change is just so – and just perfect. It seems this is how things were meant to be.

This post is dedicated to  Puanani  Burgess – the  one who showed me the secret of the storms within. Thank you Auntie!

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