I crawled through the dark tunnel, careful to keep in my group of four, snagging my green tights on something that stuck out from the carpet. It was very dark. I couldn’t see where my hands were touching the floor. I emerged into a dim bubble of gray. I fought the rising claustrophobia as I heard someone near me cough and splutter. I looked for a safe place to sit.
The sun spoke to me. Venus and Mars had a school-yard fight about who was better. A laser-pointer narrowly missed my eyes.
A few days ago I was, in fact, not on drugs, but attending a presentation by a planetarium at school. There was a bouncy-house-esque bubble in the gym. I went in with my K-2 classes to the bubble to see a presentation on the planets. There are several pieces of equipment that I would have appreciated the opportunity to bring with me into the planetarium. One such item would have been a night-light. Crawling into the bubble was dark and confusing. I’m surprised that the kindergarteners managed it without breaking into a cold sweat. I’m surprised that I managed to do it with only a cold sweat. A little glow-in-the-dark night-light would have made a huge difference to my comfort while going into the planetarium.
A second item that would have brought me peace within the planetarium was a facemask to block out all the germs. As time went on the air in the planetarium became heavy and hot. I could practically sense the germs from 70 little ones settling into my body and beginning to grow into a stomach-flu monster. In my mind, at that time, the stomach-flu monster looked an awful lot like the presenter’s rendition of Mars – hot and swirly.
Speaking of monsters, the sun introduced us to all of the planets. Along with the increasing sense of an oncoming fever, the disorientation of sitting in a dark bubble, and a strange sensation that sound seemed to come from anywhere except where it was actually originating, I started to feel a little dizzy. When Jupiter opened his mouth to swallow us whole I started to wonder if I wasn’t just making the whole thing up in my head as some sort of pre-vacation mental breakdown.
But no, it was very, very real.
Adding to my increasing disorientation was the realization that the children were in no way disturbed by any of this. They had no concept that the sun should not be talking to us, nor that it was ludicrous for Venus to carry a parasol. They did not mind that they were baking in an oven of bacteria, and neither did they hesitate when asked to crawl into a dark hole.
After the presentation was over I had a discussion with a co-worker who had been fascinated by the display and was overcome with a sense of smallness in comparison with the stunning display of God’s heavenly handiwork. Perhaps if I had worn a facemask I would have noticed these things, but instead I focused on the slow introduction of laryngitis into my system.
The children learned wonderful things about the stars that roam the heavens. I learned that next time the planetarium comes to town that I will provide my own mask, night-light, and take some preemptive Vitamin C.