I was a bit naive in High School. I am one of four girls, number three to be exact. Threes do not need to be street smart; ones take care of that. Twos navigate the world by creating balance in a family that was used to devoting all of their time and energy to the first born. Twos introduce sharing and feedback to the eldest child. Twos soften our edges and help us blend with the world.
I always felt a bit out of sync with other girls in high school. When we would gather in the mornings before school, I found myself physically a part of the group, but mentally in another place. I wanted to fit in, but there was often a disconnect. Source had a plan for that, and her name was Shannon.
Shannon was the number Two in my family, but number one in my eyes. Shannon was my best friend when we were little. Shannon had the unique ability of allowing me to be me. She did not criticize me for the way I was. She didn’t need me to be any different to be loved by her. I was simply her sister, and that privilege granted me acceptance in her life and later in high school by her peers. We had a code at school where my inability to read the room might embarrass her. When the gang would share a story or joke that I did not get, she would whisper in my ear “shut up, I’ll tell you later.” I would then relax, politely laugh, and hope to pass for one of them.
These days I am reacquainting myself with high school as a French teacher. Again, I find myself on the outside looking for a way in. I consider myself a reader of energy, but I am finding that what young people navigate today is foreign to me. Life has changed me in ways that makes me unrecognizable to my younger self. I can see now that Shannon allowed me to be myself in a world that wanted me to submit. My spirit had other ideas and chose Shannon to teach me how to be more savvy. Shannon did not run interference for me, she was my translator. She helped me to find my footing so that I could walk in this world with more confidence. I still need translators in life. I think we all do. I look for ways to connect others to the unseen, and Spirit still puts people on my path to help me navigate the seen. For example, the other day I was on bathroom duty during lunch. I mentioned to the girls that stall number three had a problem, because it was locked. A student of mine said, “kids do that sometimes Madame Matheny, they think it’s funny.” In my head I thought why would anyone want to lock a stall and then crawl underneath on the bathroom floor? Have they seen the lines of ladies waiting? We need every stall! But I knew better than to speak that thought. My Shannon was letting me know that my ability to make sense of certain situations would never fly in this arena.
In my new environment of teaching inner-city kids, I am seeing a different side of life. Instead of withdrawing into my world, I choose to find ways to blend our worlds. I take the gifts Shannon offered me and share them with my students. I intend to build confidence by helping them navigate content that is completely foreign to them. I bring enthusiasm and understanding of the language to them. In return, many are willing to translate their world for me. Look around your life and notice your ‘Shannons.’ You might be surprised to learn that she lives in babies that bring hope, the elderly that remain steadfast and the tough kid that stays true to his principles. Each one of these individuals in their own unique way is beckoning us to them, whispering “shut up, I’ll tell you later.” Have faith that in a week, a month, or even a year, that wisdom will take hold. We can trust that these ‘way-showers’ on our path are coming to assure us that we are free to be ourselves in a world that asks us to conform. They approach us gingerly, bring a little order to the chaos, and leave us in a better place to live our lives.