Margin

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I had a lightbulb moment on Sunday morning.  And it happened over green eggs.  {do those gross you out as much as me?!?!?}  Year after year, March rolls closer, the promise of spring, and the celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  I love honoring the role Dr. Seuss has played in the world of beginning reading, creating story after story that inspires kids to get their nose in a book.

Each year, we celebrate with green eggs and ham, a “ceremonial” reading of a few Dr. Seuss books, maybe a Thing One/Thing Two t-shirt donning, and catching an episode of Cat in the Hat on PBS Kids.  On Sunday, Alex, my oldest got out the eggs.  He found the green food coloring, pulled out the fry pan and located the whisk.  I had forgotten that Sunday was Dr. Seuss’ actual birthday {maybe due to our boys’ unGODly wake-up hour?!?}, but Alex didn’t forget.  And he got right to work on making breakfast.  He cracked eggs, added food coloring (bleck!!!) and later read Green Eggs and Ham to his little brother.

And the lightbulb was this….after six years of doing this FOR Alex, he took the bull by the horn, and he created our Dr. Seuss breakfast for US.  I didn’t ingest any of these eggs.  The green just about does in my weak stomach.  But the intention of his actions made me sit up and take notice.

How long does our modelling and setting the scene, over and over, for our kids take effect?  And how quickly can we mess things up by teaching one thing and LIVING another??  I think about these questions almost daily when I enter the classroom.  Teaching the same skills day after day and wondering if the lightbulb will ever go on and better yet, STAY on.  Then one day you do a double take and see the student independently doing that very thing you practiced daily.

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How many days does it take to form a habit?  100?  21?  Is the key repetition?  Resiliency?  Stick-to-it-tive-ness?  A safe environment when kids feel safe and supported?  My dear class of students have weathered a lot of transition.  A painful amount of transition.  Last week included the resignation of one teacher and this week, a new team starts to build the foundation again.  Modelling.  Trying again when we don’t do it right.  Practicing.  Lots of loving reinforcement.  OVER and OVER.  And OVER again.

And through all these ups and downs…through all the mistakes and all the “do-overs”….each and every failing, I am grateful for the gift of grace.  Easter is at the crux of it all; the grace welling up in a Resurrection that changes everything.  A rebirth.  A new day.  A new reality.  A reminder that power is not found in top down management and fear, but in release.

However.  Something must come first.  A discipline of sorts.  This beautiful precursor found in the season of Lent.  A discipline of seeing our need.  Practicing letting go; practicing taking on.  It is happening in my classroom.  It is showing up at home.  If I slow down, allow enough margin to look, it’s there.  The habits and practices are deepening, allowing for change and resurrection, slowly but surely.  My friend Micha wrote of this Lenten phenomenon today on her blog–

Wherever you are in this, whatever your story, Lent is an invitation: to recognize the purple in us, those deep bruises, those reckless wounds we’ve received and handed out. Lent is the season for remembering how much we need Mystery: Christ on the cross, our sin exploding out across space and time and evaporating into the cosmos, collected by the One Who Collects Us.  We are invited to let Lent clean the wound so Easter can bring the healing.

We need mystery.  We need margin.  We need practice.  We need vulnerability.  We need to deep clean.  Lent is this season.  The season in which we are called to work.  To dig deep.  To keep at it, knowing that maybe one day, this healing, these habits, these changes become “second nature”.

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As we move into Lent tomorrow, I am excited to put a few practical ideas into our routine.  I love Nadia Bolz Weber‘s ideas for the 40 days preceding Lent (found here), goals that are even doable with kids.  For instance…

Day 1: Pray for your enemies

Day 2: Walk, carpool, bike or bus it.

Day 3: Don’t turn on the car radio

Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing

(Sunday)

Day 5: Take 5 minutes of silence at noon

Day 6: Look out the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before

My friend Mel Larson, from the Larson Lingo, also guest blogged last February about her 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge.  The idea is that during the 40 days of Lent, you rid your house of 40 bags of “stuff”.This “stuff” can be things you don’t use… junk, clothes you don’t need/wear, clutter, old toys, etc.  I love the practicality of this challenge and the freedom and “resurrection” that can happen when we free ourselves of the weight of “stuff”.

I know I will fail at doing either of these practices completely.  Or perfectly.  But, habit forming takes work.  This season of Lent can be an invitation to practicing.  Putting in the day-to-day work….leading up to that resurrection and new day.  The moment when it all of a sudden becomes clear that we are indeed growing, changing and maybe even cementing some new habits.

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