i'm sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the rug behind abby, a little girl who just joined one of my classes. she's an ethiopian refugee who came to us a few weeks ago speaking no english. she's wearing zack morris style pants- white wash denim with elastic cuffs. but instead of hugging her ankles they stop at her calves, even though it's about 40 degrees outside. her pink socks are tucked away in her red hand-me-down little boy sneakers with the rubber soles starting to peel away from the top of the shoe. her hair is in two neat pigtail braids but i can see silver strands of hair poking their way around her head. what makes a first grader begin to go grey?
she bounces up to the board to point to a letter s at the end of a word. she can't speak english but she follows the lesson about the ending of words and after watching her peers she knows what to do. she's beaming with pride.
i can't help watching her and feeling a sense of hope for life itself. every time you turn on the radio these days you hear about another 300 people losing their jobs right before christmas. you hear about your stock portfolio crashing in on itself, the value of your home declining, and how nobody is sure what's about to happen to our country. it's unsettling at a time of year that we're use to being filled with unbridled consumerism.
yet i watch abby, whose family did not just lose their house and their jobs- they lost their country. they lost their friends and their grandparents, and everything they knew. they lost the comfort of speaking being surrounded by a language they understood. they experienced something that made their first grader's hair begin to turn silver.
but abby is glowing just to be in school even in her zack morrison pants surrounded by a language she really doesn't understand. watching her fills you with a sense of relief, comfort, and hope.
all this that's going on right now, it sucks, and it's scary, and we don't know what will happen. but we're going to be ok. we will survive. it may be with out of style clothing, but we'll get there. the world- and our lives in the world, are bigger than all of this.