At the beginning of God's creating of the heavens
and the earth,
when the earth was wild and waste,
darkness over the face of Ocean,
rushing-spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters—
God said: Let there be light! And there was light.
God saw the light: that it was good.
God separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light: Day! and the darkness he called: Night!
-Genesis 1:1-5 (The Five Books of Moses, translated by Everett Fox)
ONE OF MY PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS hitchhiked from Toronto to Montreal for her honeymoon, or so was the rumor at Toronto Central Christian School. Wendy taught us art, music, and sometimes dance, and was by all accounts a Jesus hippie. Much to my mother's chagrin, Wendy insisted that we call her by her first name (which explains why I cannot remember her last), and I revered her as much as I found her strange.
For art class, we'd stare at a painting or listen to classical music with eyes closed, and paint what we felt. In music, we wrote songs about the street cars we could hear rumbling by, how the falling rain looked, or the people we'd seen on our way to school. She taught us traditional folk dances, including an Israeli water dance she'd learned at a kibbutz a previous summer, and directed us in a condensed version of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Sometimes we'd take over the basement of the church that housed our school and dance free-form to very loud music, eyes closed, straining to figure out what, exactly, we felt so we could express it.
By 7, my body was already awkward and unreliable, and I envied 3-year-olds the much-touted freedom of childhood. Yet I danced furiously, to spite my embarrassment, as a woman in a flowing skirt pleaded with us to let go.