Today I taught music in the preschool my children attended, and that completes a circle for me. Over the years, in my role as an early childhood music educator, I have led programs in most of the places where my kids had their first playgroups, their library story-times, their kindergarten classrooms. All of the places in which they were little and I was a young Mom, I have now taken the reins as teacher. It’s weird. Today, as I drove to the little Christian preschool on the very familiar route, I remembered my kids in car seats in the back of our van, talking and laughing, sometimes huddled in coats. We were always early for school in those days, and we often wound around the surrounding neighborhood in circles, turning onto Ann St. with me thinking of my Mom, finally pulling into the driveway for drop-off.
Every so often, I meet a student who reminds me of my son or daughter at those ages. Last week, I met a dark-haired, bright, shy little girl who brought my daughter to mind. Her answers were thoughtful and short, and she took in absolutely everything I was saying with intensity and quiet enjoyment. During a spring flower activity, she told me her favorite flower was a white daisy. Now, it is exceedingly rare for a four-year old girl to not claim pink or purple as her favorite color, so maybe I was paying special attention, but I quickly noted that she chose my daughter’s very favorite flower. At the same time, I realized that the girl’s name rhymes with my daughter’s name. It’s simplistic to think that there are ‘types’ of kids that make up preschool classrooms, any more than there are ‘types’ of personalities who populate neighborhoods, workplaces, or communities. All of us are inherently unique, but there’s something about life lately that makes me think that in some way, maybe everything comes around again, and it makes me wonder.
At night, after I turn off all the lights in the house, I head upstairs to my kids’ bedrooms and pray for them. That one of them is sleeping in a college dorm bed doesn’t dissuade me from praying circles around them. Circles of protection, of comfort, of help. I pray for all of the people who might be present in the circles of their lives…friends, classmates, teachers, co-workers. I make literal circle motions with my arms like a crazy person, asking Mary and my Mom to be a mother for my kids in all the places I can’t go. It sounds bananas, but my Mom did the same thing, making her way around a rosary at night, looping everyone in, all their needs and worries within the circle.
Whether in my teaching, ministry, prayer, or social life, I’m finding circles everywhere I go. Old friends are coming back around in new ways, old schools are becoming workplaces, and old themes are finding deeper meaning as they come around again. For sure, that is the way that kindness, forgiveness, and wisdom travel; from one to another and back, sometimes over months or years. When we see a piece of our soul looking back at us in the eyes of another, we understand that this clunky looping and connection is how it was designed from the beginning. In the end, a circle is a merciful shape; we have chance after chance to learn, teach, and finally, get it right.