It’s been raining all day in El Cedro. I generally like the rain here — I like the sound and it tends to cool things down — but it’s a bummer when I’m here because it usually means fewer students come to the English classes for youth I teach every Monday and Wednesday afternoon.
Over the past two weeks, I feel like I’ve started to build a rapport with some of the regular students and I’m looking forward to continuing that process. Today, however, I only have three students, and all of them are new. The regulars haven’t shown up due to the rain.
The new students are great, though. They’re attentive and already know a little English. Soon, with the help of their effort and engagement, I’m lost in the fun of teaching interested teenagers. It’s always a joy.
The mood in the classroom is so good that it makes me forget about the fact that I’m not feeling great. As happens occasionally on mission, my digestive system isn’t at 100 percent. It made things difficult earlier in the day.
Before teaching English in the afternoon, I taught three physical education sessions to kindergarten students, ages 3-6. It’s not easy to find games that are good exercise, fun, work on developing coordination and balance, and yet simple enough for me to communicate to a 4-year-old in my broken Spanish. Usually, I can mask some of the issues with my own enthusiastic demonstrations and participation, but that’s harder to do with stomach pain.
Sometimes it feels like the kindergarten class is 40 percent trying to get the kids’ attention, 30 percent giving instructions, and only 30 percent playing. But eventually, class is done and the kids run over to give me hugs. This morning, while heading back to his classroom, one of the 6-year-olds asks me earnestly if we’ll do it again tomorrow. He is a little crestfallen to hear that he would have to wait a week.
Thanks to the positive energy of my teenage students, I’m done with the English class before I know it (we actually run a little late because we lose track of time). By now, the rain has stopped and the sun is out.
My co-workers and I are waiting for the pick-up truck to leave (the first step in my two-hour trip home), and I intentionally stay just out of talking range. I’m tired and don’t really feel like struggling through a conversation in Spanish. I start looking at some flowers. Not because I really want to but it makes not participating in the conversation less awkward.
Then I see it — a beautiful white rose covered in fine drops of water.
I’m not that much of a flower person. They’re fine, but they don’t usually catch my attention. This was more than just a flower, however. The mesmerizing geometric layers of petals and wedding-white color of the flowers were covered in an ethereal randomness of dazzling beads of water, held in place by the delicate balance of gravity and water tension. The petals never fluttered. The droplets never fell. All was caught in the stillness of a nonexistent breeze.
The rain I was lamenting all day had created something special. I grab my phone from my pocket to take a few photos, and that catches the attention of my co-workers a few steps away. They see what I’m looking at and look too. Now it’s a shared moment, and I don’t mind talking with them about it. Suddenly, it’s time to go.
During the ride home, I’m tired, my stomach still hurts, and I’m not looking forward to an hour and a half on a bus, but I’m happy. That flower cheered me up, and I remember all the beauty of my day: the enthusiasm of new students, the boy who wanted to do gym class all over again tomorrow, time going by so quickly that you forget it’s time to go home, and a glimmering, crystal world after the rain that I can share with those around me.
I remember that if I pay attention, the joy already present in the world around me can take the rain, the pain, the disappointment, the disorder and the loneliness and make everything beautiful again.