When I was teaching at Sunset, we used to have these lockdown drills a couple times a year.
“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children." And he said: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
Whenever there was a bank robbery in the area or a suspicious person walking around, we'd turn off all the lights and pulls the classroom shades...
“They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
We'd lock the door and baracade the desks and all the kids would huddle up in the corner...
“Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
Giggling and laughing usually, there was a dance scheduled that Friday and the girls would talk shopping deals or a big game and the boys would trade smirks...
“And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
I would try to keep them quiet and still, standing in front of the class, on the other side of the locked door, just praying it wasn't real.
“These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
I pray a lot in the classroom.
“Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
And it wasn't that I was scared to death this day could somehow become real because I knew it could.
“The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
And it wasn't because I was terrified, because I was.
"And if you but listen in the stillness of the night you shall hear them saying in silence. Our God, who art our winged self, it is thy will in us that willeth…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
No, I prayed because in the deepest part of my soul, that's what I longed and needed to do.
“And a cry came from the people as from a single heart, and it rose the dusk and was carried out over the sea like a great trumpeting. Only Almitra was silent, gazing after the ship until it had vanished into the mist. And when all the people were dispersed she still stood alone upon the sea-wall, remembering in her heart his saying…” -The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
And long after the students left and the classes finished for the day, many an afternoon I locked the door of my little dark room and knelt beside a desk and talked to God. Pleading. Begging. Asking. But it wasn't about being safe there. More, that Rhonda would hold her sister safe under the bed when their father came home drunk, or that Hernando would not open the door that night when the boys came looking for a fight. In the end, we're all just alone, whispering to God, asking to be heard.