Light Beyond Fire

April 28, 2022- Four groups of high school freshmen watched a video on the “True Story of King Arthur”, voiced in monotone, by an English actor. Some gave it a fair amount of attention, some fell asleep and others vacillated, between checking their messages and looking at the screen. I have the video pretty much memorized, after four straight viewings. Those who are concerned about the assignment that they face next week, will no doubt go on You Tube and check the film in snippets.

On the other side of our county, the fire that got me serving in a Red Cross shelter, last weekend and on Monday, is still raging, albeit being more contained than a few days ago. Being with youth, on the other hand, gives me a sense of the light that truly overcomes the fires of ignorance, destructiveness and imposition of suffering. The teens look out for one another, far more than they are sometimes credited with doing.

These classes are engaged in the study of a project far more cogent than the examination of King Arthur. In the 1990s and early 2000s, a young teacher undertook work with young people who others had written off. At first, any attempt she made to help them was stymied by jealous and insecure traditionalists, who thought that giving her only freshmen students would make her give up and leave the school.

The incompetents lost. Even hardcore youth have an eye for someone who actually cares for them, and gradually, the freshmen made the transition, grade by grade, to being graduating seniors-and many went on to higher learning. This teacher has extended her work to that of Visiting Professor at a university near her high school. She continues to effect change in the hearts and minds of people who might otherwise have been cast off.

This is not lost on the largely lower middle class youth at the high school where I worked today. They, too, are engaged in a journaling project that will be a saving grace for a good many of them. They, too, have experienced being written off by some in their lives-though thankfully not by many in this school.

The light that rises beyond fire is the light of the heart. It can change lives, and communities.

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