My student Jeremy stands out from the rest of the seventh graders.

Tufts of blond hair poke out from his head in all directions, and his eyes glisten with roaming mental activity. His untied shoelaces flap. He darts into class at the last second and collapses into his seat, miscellaneous papers and books in orbit. Searching nervously, he can’t find his homework. He’s out of pencils. He doesn’t have his book. During class he often stares fixedly at something on the wall, jumping when I call his name. Sometimes an idea comes to him during a class discussion and he shoots his hand up with the greatest fervor, waving it frantically until I call on him. While he talks, his eyes range up and down, as if reading a script. He speaks in bursts, with long pauses in between.

After class yesterday, when all the other students had left, Jeremy came up to me and said, “I had a dream last night.”

My interest peaked, I asked him to describe it. His voice softened and he spoke more slowly than usual.

“In my dream I was at the ocean, sitting on the sand with the waves coming in. I looked and saw that my dad was at my side. We watched the water and the sky.

“Then something appeared up above in the clouds. It was a stairway, all golden and shining. I told my dad to look, and he saw it too.”

“What was it like? Can you remember anything else about it?” I asked, fascinated.

Jeremy paused, raking his fingers through his hair. “I don’t know. I can’t describe it. It was … beautiful.” I marveled at the unusual hush and tremor in his voice.

Turning to go, hauling crumpled papers and dog-eared books, he looked back at me and said again,

“It was so beautiful …”