For several years I taught a class called 9A. It was made up of ninth graders who continued going to high school until tenth grade. At that point they could leave school legally, which was usually their goal.
It took a whole new way of teaching than my regular classes and, besides a lot of patience on my part, it also made me aware of my expectations for the class and for each one individually.
I got permission to teach the 9Aers at 7 a.m. every day, so the students could help at home or go to a job. It was a whole new ball game.
I loved those kids so much, so I started off the class every day with what I called fantasy trips. I wanted to bring light into their lives, and that’s how I did it.
The fantasy trip they liked the best and that they settled into best was one where I took them to the ocean. I was quite amazed at how those kids could actually “go there,” feel what I described, smell what I smelled and see and hear what I described.
Today I want to try to recreate that trip to give you the same peace and quiet as my class got.
I want to give you a gift. I want to create with words a place for you to go in your minds whenever you need to feel a sense of peace.
The time is 6 a.m., and the morning sun is just beginning to rise out of the Atlantic Ocean. The air seems pink and utterly still; can you see it?
It is dead low tide and the waves are barely lapping the shore; can you see it?
No breeze is caressing the sea oats that lie in the sand dunes, but they seem ready to dance; can you see it?
Here we are standing barefoot on the hard damp sandy beach, and we wiggle the tiny grains of sand between our toes; can you feel it?
We breathe in deeply the salty smell of seaweed; can you smell it?
The seagulls are awake and they congregate to discuss the day’s plans. Usually they are boisterous, but this morning they just murmur. Maybe they’re talking to you; can you hear it?
Five hundred feet from where we are standing is a fishing boat trolling for shrimp. It’s barely moving through the glassy salt water. Their side nets spread like giant wings to comb and sift for the day’s catch; do you see it?
There’s no sound of a motor but still it drifts softly. As it does, it leaves a trail, a parting of water behind it. And then, in the wake there are lovely, graceful dolphins rising like ballerinas out of the water again and again; can you see it?
Off, over, in, out. Oh, there must be twelve or fourteen of them of these beautiful gentle creatures blending and sharing such magic just for us. We are silent; can you hear it?
Right behind them are the resident pelicans, flying in “V” formation, low to get a first-hand look at what might be swimming in the sea and they too, are silent; can you hear it?
Everything this wondrous morning is silent. Once in a while a gull would dive into the water but mostly all the birds are quiet and enjoying the magic moment with us; can you feel it?
I have given this ocean fantasy trip with many of my adult classes; some of them have even said they not only heard the ocean waves but tasted the salt on their lips. I’m certain they will go there again.
We stand there until the boat has passed and with it the dolphins and the seagulls. By now the sun is higher and we are filled with warmth and peace and are sustained.
We are ready to return to mull all the senses we filled. And the gift is you, now, can go there again and again and again, and find peace again and again and again. You might even find a sprinkle of sand between your toes.