Ever since I was in sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Even when I didn’t do my best work in class, I never failed to miss how much my teachers wanted me to do well for my own sake. Whether baby-sitting in high school or nannying in college, I enjoyed planning art lessons and review sessions for those in my care. The more I reviewed math facts and historical dates with the children, the more my own understanding and retention also grew.
When I was in eighth grade, I read writing by T. S. Elliot, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. (Funnily, all men and all catholic.) Although I already liked to write, the idea of writing a long story terrified me, but I soon learned that these authors also wrote poetry. Then, for my eighth grade graduation, I received a collection of poems by female authors like Maya Angelou and Sandra Cisneros. Through their words, their stories, I began to realize the power of poetry more fully. I started writing poetry and have continued writing in some manner or another since then.
April is National Poetry Month and yes, you can read or write poetry throughout the whole year, but I like the designation of this month falling in early Springtime and overlapping with the Easter season as well. Just as this is a season of new birth, new life, new possibilities, I believe words can offer a writer and reader the same sense of hope.
Over the years, when I was sad or anxious, unsure or feeling hurt, writing was a powerful outlet for me. I was able to explore emotion with words that were just for myself. This process, I believe, helped me to become more self-reflective and aware of how my actions affected those around me and vice versa. My vocabulary also grew as I became determined to find new ways of expressing myself and the world around me. My self-confidence, reading comprehension and basic communication skills greatly improved too!
Perhaps you have a favorite writer or poet. Do your children like poems that rhyme or stories that seem silly? Schools often choose an author-in-residence during this time of the year to encourage learning and help rally the students in the home stretch before summer break. This tradition of applauding writers in long standing. The United States has named a National Poet Laureate since 1936 to help raise the national consciousness and encourage reading. There are even Ted Talks about the power of poetry and the healing nature of writing.
As we continue to memorialize Jesus’ incarnation and resurrection during this Easter season, I invite you to also explore the power of words. It’s true, words can be used to bully, injure, discourage. However, words can also lift us up, open our hearts to new possibilities, help us dream about a better future and offer comfort. In my opinion, those are wonderful examples of Christ’s light working in our lives.