I was still sitting in my classroom yesterday, a couple hours after school was out, earbuds in, grading, occasionally singing along with an album of old Gospel music. Suddenly I looked up from my desk, fully expecting to see someone in the room–lots of someones.
The feeling was identical to that sensation you get when you feel a shift in the room and turn around to see that the principal has unexpectedly led in a gaggle of district people and new teachers to observe your classroom management.
Except I saw no one. I blinked and took my earbuds out, the same as I would if there were corporeal beings who wanted my attention standing before me. Still, the sensation increased, until I felt I was in a densely crowded room of profoundly compassionate and interested observers. I don’t know how long I sat there, tears streaming down my face, because it was just that kind of experience.
I know: it sounds crazy–and let’s face it: it’s May, so teachers are all a bit nutty–but I’m telling you, I was not alone.
While we are talking crazy, let’s go all out: As I sat there, I desperately wanted one of those unseen beings to be my grandmother–the hymns I was listening to, after all, were her favorites. I have felt her close before, this year, in quiet moments. But I don’t think those beings were there for me, this time. If she was there, at any rate, I don’t think I could have found her in the crowd. It would be like locating her among the occupants of a cathedral, while remaining motionless in one corner.
So where did all these people come from, and why to a muggy high school classroom, late on a May afternoon? If you were a newly guardian angel, is that the field trip you would sign up for?
I wonder how many of my students have family members who have passed on from this life, who still watch over them. I wonder how often those unseen beings are anxious to direct our words or actions, as teachers, if we let them. I wonder how it would change my students’ lives if I could channel even a fraction of the amount of love I felt in that moment, into my daily interactions with them.
Do angels really descend from above, bringing “echoes of mercy and whispers of love”? I am absolutely convinced that they do.