Thursday, November 21, 2013

Room with a Forest Lawn View.

If you look out the window of my classroom where I teach at Irving MS, you can see the wide range of hills swaddling the rough city, enclosing it with its greenery and expansive energy. You can also see the hillsides covered with tombstones, and in the distance, at the top of the hill, you'll find a church. Off to its left a bit is the great mausoleum, the burial site of Michael Jackson. Could it get any better than this? Yes. I decided on a whim to take my students to see it up close and personal.

Having a view of a mortuary makes a person think a lot about living life to the fullest. I originally wanted to take my kids there for Day of the Dead, in honor of our loved ones who had passed on. For any young person it is an important conversation to have about the life and death cycle. In science class we talk about the nitrogen cycle and how everything decomposes. Reminds me of what I was raised believing: ashes to ashes and dust to dust...and how death isn't the end of life, but the beginning of a new one.

The kids complained after the first two miles of walking....but once they were on the finishing stretch at the top of the hill overlooking the gorgeous vista into Glendale, I think they began to realize that the climb was worth it, if for no other reason, to be with friends on a beautiful day and have the health to be able to accomplish the task. The lady at the gateway said "woman you are crazy! Are you sure?" She asked me repeatedly. I told her yes, that I am in fact crazy. She asks me, "what, are you a fitness teacher or something?" I told her "yes, in fact I am." It was so much fun to see her expression.

On our way back down, the kids realized that they were about to have lunch for two hours and were just in the presence of MJ. Too bad we didn't get to go to his burial site. That is one reason I would return.

One of the reasons I wanted to be inside Forest Lawn was for the deep reflection it afforded me. Of course it was an unusual trip for the students to take, but the concept of being on the grounds, seeing people grieving over their loved ones, observing death and respecting life, was very important. Most of the students did not remember the last funeral they had gone to. This spoke strongly to their experience of life, living as if they would live forever. But no, they won't live forever, and they had a chance to reflect on this while enjoying the beating of their heart and filling their lungs with fresh air.

Meanwhile, as I took photos of the grounds, a certain super vibrant light shone through the trees and bounced off the church walls. To me, the lights were so bright, it could only have been influenced by the Angels. To me, it always is.

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