Are you a keeper of the keys?
More than a few years ago when I started substitute teaching each day I would write about the experiences of that day. One day I had an idea or maybe better said a string of thoughts to come my way when I was writing down my notes. When I had finished I thought that a picture of a humble man making keys while sitting on the floor of an old key shop would make a nice poster of positive thoughts. This was the writings of that day:
I am the keeper of the keys…
I will find the key to open your talents and your special abilities.
I will try many different keys, and if I do not find your key in the usual manner,
I will use my talent and fashion a key especially for you.
I will help you find that unique you and awaken and reveal that extraordinary self that is within you.
I’ll work tirelessly to find that exceptional you…locked in the hidden places of your mind and unleash that remarkable talent that makes you so uncommon and unique…
And help reveal to you that rare find.
Since that time I have discovered a lot about myself and those around me. I guess you might call it mental or spiritual growth. I was asked if I would teach an art class for adults with various disabilities and I said yes not knowing that I was about to enter a very new and different world of perception and understanding.
I was apprehensive at first probably as much as the new students were that I was about to teach. I have learned a lot from this class probably a lot more than I have taught them. I learned to look at creating art from a new and open way. The rules of a successful work of art for me had changed and it became more about the individual’s attempt to create their own art and what that process did for them and their self esteem.
I began to understand that their impression of what they were doing was greatly dependent on my response. At first I thought the class could possibly become a heavy burden but just the opposite is true. I am often greeted by members of the class with hugs and high-fives and a hundred different smiles. They are truly glad you are there and you are paying attention to them.
The class seems always to end too soon and I help wash off hands and arms and sometimes faces and hair. I have even bought soft brushes to help with this part of the class. I rarely leave the class without a new color on my apron or trousers, it’s all part of the experience. They take pride in what they have done and we, the teachers, are sure to give praise for their efforts.
I have learned one great thing from this class and that is that there’s a lot of love within all these individuals and they want to share it with others as much as they appreciate receiving it.
I have trouble teaching in middle and high school now especially after being in this group that tries so hard with everything they do, and then in the regular school, the kids have very little incentive to use the blessings they have been given. It’s hard for me not to say, “You know, I know a lot of people who wish they could have your bodies for even a day.” I wonder who are the real disabled, those who cannot do or those who choose not to do.
As a side note, some artists from the Madison County Senior Center’s art class have also volunteered to help and it’s been a good experience for all of us. Love can be shared in so many ways and its power seems limitlessness…the more you give, the more you get.