“What’s the difference between being scared and being in a mystery?” I asked my second and third grade classes at the beginning of October. We are reading Cam Jansen: The Mystery at the Haunted House, and before we began the haunted tale, I wanted them to think about this word — mystery — and whether or not it’s different than being afraid.
We decided that while we might be afraid while we’re experiencing something mysterious, we aren’t so afraid that we walk (or run) away from it. We can still think. We can stand in that mystery. Maybe we can even create something.
I reminded my classes of a story we read together last year, The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything. This might be my favorite Halloween story of all time. It’s about a woman who’s walking home one fall evening when shoes, then pants, a shirt, and eventually a scary pumpkin head follow her. She keeps telling these articles of fashion, “I’m not afraid of you!” until the pumpkin head yells, “Boo!” The lady runs home, locks the door, and rocks herself in her rocking chair. In the quiet of her home she remembers she is not afraid. And so she opens the door to announce this.
“Then what will we do now?” they whine.
The lady thinks for a moment, and comes up with an idea. The next morning, there is a scarecrow in her yard — those clothes and that pumpkin simply needed a purpose. Once the little old lady figured out that she wasn’t afraid, she needed to discover what she could do with her former fear. Walking through that process? That’s mystery.
For this week’s prompt, think about something you’re afraid of. Enter into the mystery and see what you do with it.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our recent poetry prompt. Here’s one from Carol Billings that we enjoyed.
come with me darling and we can go sailing
together alone on the bountiful sea
the ocean seems empty the night breeze if rising
this fresh wind is teasing me come sail with me
Oh Johnny dear Johnny green eye like deep water
how can I go sailing with you on the sea?
What would we do there and how can we live there
alone in the silence pray, how could it be?
Don’t worry my darling, my life is the ocean
we’ll carry some stores : whiskey water and food
will fish in the moon light make love under blue skies
across the vast ocean and no one to see
Oh Johnny dear Johnny your warm arms invite me
I want to go with you across the deep sea
but to leave my poor family my mother and father
my dear little sister and brother’s three!
LISTEN my darling please take this gold ring
be my family…YOU know how I love you
and I can’t bear to leave you but my mother the
ocean is calling for me.
Good bye to my Mother, farewell to my father
good by to my sister and brothers
my curly haired sailor, deep eyes like sea water
has captured my heart and I’m off to the sea.
I have been a fan of Callie Feyen’s writing for quite some time but I finished this book in almost one sitting. You do not need to be a teacher to have instant admiration for her honesty, vulnerability, and true dedication to her students. She uses her own personal storytelling as the tool to teach one of the greatest stories of our time creating an instant connection to her students as well as to you the reader. If you have ever been in 8th grade, fallen in love, had a best friend, or loved reading, you will love this book. As the mother of an 8th grader, my other genuine hope is that my son will one day have a teacher as gifted as Callie. – Celena Roldan