I just watched Waiting for for Superman, which is a documentary exposing the failures of the public school system in the US.
I was warned that, as a public school teacher it would just make me frustrated and angry. Instead it just made me feel sad and helpless.
The narrator talked about how sad he was to learn that Superman wasn't real. And that no one was coming to rescue them.
I sobbed at the end as the kids waited for their name to be drawn in a handful of lotteries, for their chance to go to a good school. For a much better chance at education, college and adults pouring energy into their success as compared to their neighborhood schools with 60-70% dropout rates and even worse testing scores. Their future seemed to come down to their name being drawn out of hat. Or at least a pretty good head start.
Most of them weren’t picked.
And I watched it one statement just kept playing through my mind.
“What can I do?”
And it wasn’t a frustrated, this is too messed up, give up,sarcastic kind of question.
But an honest, really, what can I do to help kind of question.
And I don’t know the answer.
But I do know that it is easy to give up.
To see big problems without easy solutions and throw your hands up and do nothing because you really don’t know what to do. And it seems too hard or too much to even know where to being.
And a million other things that I don’t know how to fix. And mostly don’t do anything about.
But I have this friend, who used to be a student of mine.
One of my first.
And she didn’t throw her hands up.
And she didn’t take the normal path after college.
She didn’t sit around on her couch wondering how to make things better.
Instead she packed her bags.
She joined the peace corps and just started her assignment in Peru.
And I am inspired and encouraged and humbled by her experiences.
By the love that she is living. To me she is Superwoman.
When she gets the chance she writes about it here. And her words on change and love and service and so much better than mine. Because she is living it.
I haven't written much in comparison to all that has happened in the last three weeks. I have met so many people, seen and learned more than I can really remember to explain. Every moment is an opportunity to learn, to experience life from a new vantage point. And everything seems to have deeper meaning than can be expressed on paper. It's not just a freezing cold shower; it is a connection with a lifetime of cold showers that my family has gotten used to. It's my little host sister breathing hard and fast; crying from the shock of the water. It not just trash everywhere. It is people living with heaps of trash to the left and the right, in mounds and scattered from one side of the neighborhood to the other while other areas are completed cleaned of debris. It is my family and friends and everyone I've ever known who are here in Peru, because I am here in Peru. It is God's hand getting ready to move because I am ready to move. It is Jesus and Tucson and Lubbock, Texas reaching out to others.
What I am experiencing seems so much bigger than the little help I can give. I'm learning how to be aware of the mighty power of our God who has been changing the world with the hands and feet of humanity all along. Knowing that this movement is so much more than my small efforts and failures (failures that feel so big at the time). The grandness of good news of forgiveness helps me to feel the arms of the Creator hold me tight, to care for me throughout the day. The moments when I fall become opportunities for me to be grateful for the way that God loves this ragamuffin. How awesome is it to know, as Shane Claiborne puts it, the God who didn't want to change the world without us.
"You won't relent until you have it all. My heart is yours."
And maybe I can’t pack my bags and move to Peru ( although I’m dying to visit), or single handedly change the nation’s school systems.
But I can encourage my student who just told me his brother died last week from an overdose.
And make time for the one that drives me crazy and always seems to end up in my room afterschool.
Just like I loved and made time for that 14 year old girl who kept asking me to play trivia, meet for coffee and emailing me after I moved away 11 years ago. And now she's superwoman.
And that isn’t such a bad start.
(and I’ve written about my friend Terrace before…my favorite post is this one.)