I'm only 28 years old. Ten o'clock at night should not feel late, but it might as well be 2am, my eyelids are so heavy. My days have been long lately. It was "back to school night" last night, which made for a twelve hour day at work. By the time I opened my laptop to begin reading narrative essays, I was already drained, but I forced myself to get through at least fifteen stories before hitting the sheets.
I picked up the reading again after dinner tonight. The reality of my job hits me hard sometimes. I am reading about a kid who could not afford to replace the sole uniform shirt he owned, which a bully ripped in the process of beating him up. I am reading about a family who eats only rice and beans for dinner night after night. I am reading about a boy who lost his dad, a girl who lost her sister. And I'm only on like the 30th story of 120.
And then I get a request from a student asking for a recommendation letter for her deferred action application. Few could be more deserving than this sweet, hardworking honors student. But few teachers could be more tired than this incredibly exhausted woman. When I first looked at her email, I didn't initially respond.
But integrity hits me.
I am brought back to New Orleans, back in February of this year, when I attended a conference where I heard an amazing speaker, Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, speak about compassion. She spoke about the verse where it says, "At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion because the people were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Mark 6:34
Compassion. Jesus saw the people. He saw their helplessness. And his heart was moved. And you know what he did? He fed them. He performed a miracle, feeding the crowds from two loaves of bread and five fish.
I am no miracle worker. But I see the people. I see their helplessness. When Rev. Alexia Salvatierra shared stories of injustice, she convicted me greatly with facts about how few people actually speak out against injustice. All year long, her words have consistently resounded in my ears.
I see it alright. I see the injustice. I see the the harassment and the helplessness of those marginalized by our society. But do I do anything about it? Do I really do anything? Am I truly moved with compassion?
I can't speak for my past, but I can speak for my present. I'm tired. My throat is parched with the ever-thirsty feeling that comes from talking all day and not resting enough at night. I feel the lack of sleep and the pressure of my to do list in the tension at the base of my neck.
But there's a letter I must write before I go to sleep.