When we consider places to travel, we are often thinking of beauty, relaxation, or adventure. Our minds and hearts are flooded with imagery of that excites and invigorates us. We think of beaches, lakes, or oceans.
But we typically don’t dream about swamps.
Swamps are the backwoods siblings to our adventures. They are more likely to be listed on places to avoid, than destinations to dream of. But beneath the surface of the swamp, life is teeming. And the swamp is a necessary part of our ecosystem.
Similarly, we all love to be an integral part of a purposeful workplace, where the business that gets accomplished actually leaves a stamp of wellness and compassion on this earth. But we don’t necessarily crave chaos in the place of doing that work.
Inevitably, there are days that your workplace is a swamp. It is comprised by wetlands of creating a dynamic environment where students can grow and explore, while you also navigate how to prepare them for standardized tests. There are muddy paths of dealing with critical parents or equally stressed colleagues, while trying to balance mandated curriculum that doesn’t necessarily serve the best interests of your students. Yet you trudge through the morass, because your in the business of changing lives, showing compassion and grace to those students and staff who may also be swamped with their own private issues or demands, and the overwhelming logistical challenges that accompany them. Indeed, you tread through murky waters.
But in some swamps, there can exist an oasis of beauty. A respite place. A refuge from the annoying bugs and the pungent odors. Your spirit and your smile can provide a respite for those that enter your building, and your classroom. Your kindness and compassion touch the hearts of those that muddle through the muck and mire of their own journey. Outwardly, you give a high-five at the doorway, a star on their paper, or perhaps provide the only encouraging words they may hear all day; but inwardly, you provide a reason to smile while they are parked in your presence. You provide the empathy that those swamp-travelers might not see in their own homes. You provide a friend that says, “I’m with you on this journey. I’m with you in this swamp.”
Thank you friends, for making the swamp a lovely place to travel through, especially for those that would rather not be there. Thank you for your grace under pressure. You shine like a star in the darkness, giving light, and hope in an otherwise gloomy environment.