The Girls in My Heart

This semester is off to an intense and fulfilling start.

I am fortunate to be working with such a wonderful, diverse group of professors, graduate colleagues, and students, to be inundated with scholarly experiences, and for my life to be saturated with reading and writing; I can’t think of anything better (except doing it all with my precious kiddos).

To add to this, I had a full circle, healing moment last Sunday when my pastors at St. Paul’s asked me to teach a high school Sunday School / Religious Ed. class. To be asked to do this is truly an honor and complete delight– if you know anything about my history with the church and religion, you might understand why. To have been somewhat thrown out of my childhood Catholic church for being a lesbian and now to be asked to teach high school classes at my Lutheran church is an immense honor and healing gift.

Teaching: I love it. I thank God for every single day I am able to do it while I am on this earth.

A student wrote this to me after our first couple classes:

“You make class seem incredibly exciting and you’re the first professor or teacher I’ve ever had who’s not made writing seem scary, but easy and welcoming in its place. So, I just wanted to say thank you!”

Kindness generating kindness – that’s what it’s all about. Little gestures like like her note, and the grace of being able to read it, are holy to me. It is being able to hold a mirror up to my soul and see something good reflected, rather than being reminded of things I am not — the ones I have been called.

Today, a student came up to me after class just to tell me how excited she is about our class. That was all she had to express: her excitement. Her shoulders were raised in the air and she was full of happy energy. I’m not sure how I seemed to her at the moment because I was drenched and exhausted from the lack of AC in the building by the end of each of my classes, but, to me, the student was an angel; I hope college uplifts her and all of her classmates to live lives of excitement and fulfillment in which their inner joy spreads into everything they do. From joy and passion spring kindness and compassion.

To be part of the excitement a student feels about the class and about writing is a gift beyond expression.

(One my sister’s former middle school students is now one of my college-writing students – I also learned today.)

How did I come from the pure hell of 2017, and the difficulties that led up to it, only now to experience the bliss of a purpose-driven existence? I have some idea (it goes something like: a lot of work and a lot of grace). And I am ever so grateful.

Most of all, I am grateful for my ‘Chicago girls’ – the girl in the dental chair and the girl waiting on the floor for her to finish getting a crown – the girls in my heart, driving me to fight-with-joy for our future.


Featured photo: The Sisters, Mary Cassatt

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