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  • Jen Mantle


The last fourth grade class I taught had 19 kids.

I would walk them a block from school for our gardening class.

I counted them a minimum of 100 times.

I knew exactly how they’d be spaced in our circle when all were present, and exactly how it felt to have one or more missing.

I keep thinking of that space. What the space looks like that 19 kids occupy.

19 ten year olds.

What the garden looked like with 19 kids.

What they would all be doing. All the different personalities. What a line of 19 kids looks like walking down the block, me going back and forth like a mama bird, checking the front, then the back, then running up front again. Making sure they were all accounted for. Making sure they were all safe, all happy.

19 kids takes up a lot of space. In a circle, walking in a line, sitting at desks, gathered in a group.

I keep having flashbacks of being in a public park in an outdoor classroom with 19 kids. Watching them, but also keenly aware of our surroundings. Being by myself with 19 kids, but not feeling overwhelmed at all. Ready, yet holding those children with all my love and care. A literal energetic bubble. A super protective one at that. I remember folks who did approach us doing so very cautiously. Yeah. I held a strong container around those kids. I kind of chuckle looking back- but also. I’m glad.

It would be really easy to not say anything about what happened.

Because really, what can be said that creates ease in a situation like this.

It would be easy to only focus on what my venture this morning to this place did for me. Which was bring to ease in a certain sense. Nature heals. It brings perspective. It did make me feel better honestly.

But. I still keep thinking of what the space that 19 kids occupies feels like. Would they fit in this room? Would they fit in this circle? This couch?

Two days ago, they were just living life.

And now.

So. I guess the question for us all.

How can you shine your light when the world needs it most.

It’s overdue love.

It’s time to shine for those who can no longer.

It’s time to create change in whatever way you know how.

Holding the world in love right now. Literally.

And sending love to all of you. That you may find the strength to shine brightly for those in need.


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