My room looks forlorn this time of year. My students and I have taken down posters, vocabulary cards, anchor charts, sentence strips, and the world map that have dominated my walls since September. As they dissemble the room, they chatter in their native tongues: Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Mondo. Somehow, they understand each other. We add to the bulletin board the names and pictures of the eight English as a Second Language seniors who will graduate this week, moving from my little corner room of an urban high school and–gulp–into the world.

Each year, I pray that I have given these foreign-born or first-generation students what they will need to succeed. After four years of high school, are they ready?

Acts 2:1-20 tells the story or another group of students sent out into the world. For three years, they had studied under Rabbi Yeshua, the Son of God. They soaked in His parables and lessons, wondered at His miracles, and tried to dream the dream of the Kingdom of God. 

They were probably as nervous about the whole “go out into all the world” commandment from Matthew 28:19 as my senior students.


It is noteworthy that in the Jewish tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the early wheat harvest, taking place from May to June, after the Passover (Ephesians 34:22). Until the priest had blessed the offerings and given them to God, the faithful could not enjoy the fruits of their labor. They needed to wait.

And wait the disciples did, gathering in the upper room for the arrival of the Holy Spirit, not really understanding his form or function, just believing in the instructions Jesus had given them that they should “not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father has promised” (Acts 1:4). What would the gift be? Would they recognize the Comforter? How would he help them in disciplining the world?


The coming of the Holy Spirit was not quiet: it was noisy and sudden and caught the attention of all who were within hearing. The filling by the Holy Spirit changed forever the twelve men who had traveled with Jesus on His earthly journey. It led them to leave the shores of Galilee, to minister to all who would listen. Unfathomable, unexplainable by human standards, the Spirit has always been and always will be.  It is a great mystery.

What happens in my ESL room is, on a smaller scale, also a mystery. How do these students from different countries, speaking different languages, form a community in Room 108, a place where they can help and encourage each other, where they can dream their dreams and seek their visions, ready to “go out into the world” ? I say good-bye to them with both tears and joy. I know that I will see, someday, the promise fulfilled in each of them even as I bid them farewell.  

We, however,  never have to bid farewell to the Holy Spirit. He is a gift from the Father. He teaches us and reminds us of God’s word, he convicts of us our sins, he is a source of wisdom, he gives us gifts to forward the Kingdom of God. He helps us dream our dreams, seek our visions, and even write our blogs.


I sit at my desk, feeling a little sad and dejected at the emptiness of my classroom, the coming good-bye to my seniors. Natalia, a student from the Dominican Republic, comes up and gives me a hug. “We will leave,” she says, “and there will be new students who need you. But we are ready. You have given us what we needed.” 

I pray each of them out into the world, into their dreams. 

And are you ready? The Holy Spirit has given us all we need to go out into all the world. Isn’t it time you followed your own dreams?



Linda Cobourn

Linda Cobourn picked up a pencil when she was nine and hasn’t stopped writing since, but she never expected to write about adult autism and grief. When her husband died after a long illness, she began a remarkable journey of faith with her son, an adult with Asperger’s syndrome. The author of Tap Dancing in Church, Crazy: A Diary, and Scenes from a Quirky Life, she holds an MEd in Reading and an EdD in Literacy. Dr. Cobourn also writes for Aspirations, a newsletter for parents of autistic offspring. Her work in progress, tentatively titled Finding Dad: A Journey of Faith on the Autism Spectrum, chronicles her son’s unique grief journey. Dr Cobourn teaches English as a Second Language in Philadelphia and lives with her son and a fat cat named Butterscotch in Delaware County. She can be contacted on her blog, Quirky, and her Amazon author page.