Tyre Brett Sidney Jaidyn Jordyn Nicolas Jaycee Shea Maritza Judah Saige Yandel Hallie Kira Quinten Penelope Ignacio Luz Aliyah Kaden Ismael Alan Madeleine Fatima Gwendolyn Milo Chelsea Elisha Tiara Nathalia Jada Isaac Aydin Julien Nathan Terry Ryan Annabel Benjamin Eleanor Layton Janiah Bianca Quinn Kane Ximena Jaylan Jovan Pamela Luis Whitney Scarlett Amber Isai Riley Faith Dalia Arabella Kathleen Cristofer Abel Aliana Janiyah Delaney Alyson Milton Perla Moshe Kolton Rafael Ciara Reed Katelynn Robert Bryant Savion Byron Avery Kenley Madisyn Tyson Richard Luna Jax Courtney Guillermo Mya Dayanara Emmett Margaret Shayna Haley Corinne Luke Austin Dereon Uriah Hamza Yosef Josie Cael Andrea Henry Aaliyah Kaylynn Hudson Adison Valentino Tomas Roselyn Sariah Noemi Amina Alani Waylon Ariana Terrence Raquel Ayana Colten Amir Stephanie Callum Gemma Marlie Keagan Kellen Alvaro Kianna Eden Shayla Anabella Jennifer Destiny Estrella Marely Amirah Shane Brodie Demarion Carlos Bruce Molly Adam Ibrahim Kamron Alfred Cali Nikolai Cale Jeremiah Kelton Lilia Libby Landen Emery Meredith Trevon Jordin Mariama Yousouppha Lydia Jo Lore Baziel Alissa Leanna Damon Gregory Nathanial Diya Conor Clinton Aleah Jaxon Brayan Johan Leland Payton Keyla Alden Annalise Heath Kaleb Emely Kate Eduardo Titus Melody Anay Davon Kayden Cristal Angelina Adrianna Brennan Mohamed Gordon Beckham Carolina Ace Destiney Reginald Jean Kaylyn Yurem Tristan Lexie Rylie Adrian Gideon Parker Ronnie Alexandra Alicia Tristen Cordell Karli Juliet Kale Everett Jolie Jaliyah Elaine Leonel Dexter Esperanza Asia Hector Jamari Kymani Anabelle Rodrigo Saul Jason Amelia Kaya Carl Rihanna Ariel Saniya Mckenna Zoie Aspen Amiya Camila Jaiden Rex Brycen Kaylie Kasen Elianna Xavier Talon Khloe Kenyon Marcelo Liam Nathalie Denise Kyra Moses Jovanny Janiya Anna Maximillian Morgan Sandra Payten Madyson Makena Ashleigh Lauren Brooke Nataly Regan Johnathan Kole Anton Slade Zoe Jaxson Ada Kyleigh Ashly Jadyn Emilia Ean Joshua Allie Callie Kamden Samir Isla Matthew Jamal Deven Javier Kylan Darryl Desiree Miah Mohammed Arjun June Hannah Brandon Draven Erica Haylie Yair Micah Donna River Gerardo Antwan Charlize Ryann Kolby Omar Bridget Alivia Marlene April Sarahi Caitlyn Izabelle Kyson Savannah Jair Jenny Deacon Rudy Jaidyn Ronan Mariah Alyvia Katherine Amara Grayson Andreas Kiersten Fabian Cassie Mario Gary Genevieve Preston Davis Azul Jayda Shania Mallory Laila Taylor Marie Cora Juan Jayden Lola Claire Zack Garrett Darnell Bryce Arielle Aubrey Santino Dylan Lennon Cedric Brynlee Walker
The teacher handed me an outline of a human being on a sheet of paper and laid out the assignment. It was Fall, 2019 and I was volunteering in the Grade 5/6 class. I love it when I get to tackle the same task as the kids. I was to colour my human and include several words that were important to me. I watched as most kids launched into their work with gusto. I did the same.
I thought of the sports I loved: golf and tennis. Eighteen months later, tennis still shines but I’ve cancelled my subscription to Golf Channel. And my clubs sit lonely in the garage.
I thought of other activities that get my juices flowing: elliptical and meditation. Both are still alive in me. I love the swoosh of the arms and legs, and the stillness within my meditation chair.
I thought of the values I hold: love, connection and you. Yep … c’est moi! Put me in a cubicle, away from my fellow man and woman, and I would wither away. I look over there and I see your eyes, and what a delight to be in their presence.
I thought of my qualities: kind, peace and determination. I will give to you when you’re down. I am quiet inside. And then there’s the “I will do this!” part. I will never give up.
I thought of folk music … how I love the songs of the people, the stories of ordinary folks like us.
And then this other word came to me – hands. They’re such gracious instruments of blessing. They reach out. They touch.
My time on the planet showed its face as well: 70 and January 9, 1949. They’re well related. I’m happy to be this young.
Finally, two more words: Mr. Kerr.
Days later, the labours of all 24 of us were brought together in a magical way. My life, far longer than theirs so far, is no more special that those of the kids. Words spill out across the collage, revealing the truths of each of us … and all of us.
A few months ago, I had this glorious work of souls framed. It sits in my home, reminding me every day of what’s important.
Last fall was not this fall. One of the many differences is my presence in the classroom as a volunteer. A year ago, I was in the Grade 5/6 class about four half-days a week. Now it’s not at all. No volunteers allowed, plus I’m too scared to go back. Advanced age, you know, and little social distancing.
What you see in front of you is the framed version of a collage, composed of 23 kids and me. We coloured our figure and added words that were important to us. Here were my choices:
Kind, folk music, elliptical
tennis, you, golf, determined
love, 70, connection, meditation
hands, January 9, 1949
Twelve months on, the words still ring true … mostly. I haven’t been on the elliptical at the gym since March, and I don’t care about golf anymore, but love is still the coolest thing around.
I miss the kids but there is still a connection between us. Unspoken right now, unseen with the physical eye, and undoubtedly joined through the heart. Our time will come. I will again sit in my favourite spot – on top of a cupboard – and feel the flow of learning and wondering.
Until then, there is the art of souls.