Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cracks in the Sidewalk

I wrote the following in May of this year...

I was pulling weeds the other day. I haven’t had time to do much in my yard and there are lots of weeds. That day I focused on the weeds in the cracks in the sidewalk. I was amazed at how many weeds there seemed to be in cracks no larger than a centimeter wide…

When I work in my garden, I let my mind wander. That day it wandered to my students. We are nearing the end of the school year and there are a few students who have been, to put it nicely, trying. I have been frustrated. I have been wondering if I have gotten through to some of my kids.

As I was pulling weeds, I was reminded of the parable of the sower, who throws seed on all sorts of ground and in all but the fertile soil, the seed-throwing seems fruitless. Sometimes when I am teaching, I see some growth from the seeds I plant and I feel like I am throwing onto fertile soil. Most of the time I see nothing come of it… I wonder…I feel like I am throwing seeds onto something as life-depleting as my concrete sidewalk.

Except…there are cracks in the sidewalk. And in those cracks, it was clear to me that day, things can grow. Lots of things can grow. In fact, the growth I find in those cracks any time I try to clean them up is persistent, insistent upon growing. What I see growing there, what I pull up, I call weeds. I didn’t plant them. And yet they’re there.

What if I did throw seeds there? What if I planted seeds there, trusting that there could be growth in those small openings? How many of my students seem to have a rock-solid exterior, but really, within the tough exterior have some cracks? How many are waiting for someone to notice the cracks and to plant seeds in those spaces? How many might allow those cracks to widen if they know that care will be taken with those fragmented places, those places others might call weakness?

Even in the smallest spaces, life finds a way. In fact, it is from those times and places of weakness, when we "crack," that we experience growth. It is when someone takes the time to tend to our cracks that unexpected life emerges. We may not know what’s coming, but life springs forth.

And so I continue throwing seeds, even towards those students who appear to be a concrete sidewalk, even when it looks like doing so is a waste of time and seed. Maybe there are cracks there that I cannot see…Being generous with the seed-throwing, I won’t have to pull out weeds that just happened to take root there. Instead, if I take the time to notice, I may be delighted by the beautiful growth that emerges from just a tiny crack.

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