Monday, March 31, 2014

Lazarus Heart

I thought of how every day each of us experiences a few little moments that have just a bit more resonance than other moments – we hear a word that sticks in our mind – or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly…we would realize that we have been having another life altogether; one we didn't even know was going on inside us.  –Douglas Coupland

We often say, one day at a time but I say, one moment at a time.  A day, all 24 hours is packed with so many planned and unplanned events.  So, I suggest you have the overview of the day, but take it in small steps, one moment at a time.  –Eveth Colley

Last week:  It’s Wednesday.  I’m leaving work right around 6, and the sun is peeking out after what seems like a year of hiding.  I am grateful.  It’s been a long week full of emotional triggers that have been hard to check at the door, and the week is only half over.  The sun, warm on my face and stinging my eyes through the windshield is like a tangible ray of hope, Shirley Temple style.

Unlike most days of the week, I have a passenger.  A small fourth grader occupies my backseat, his green and black coat tossed haphazardly across the seat, his backpack tucked between his feet.  I give this nervous boy a lift home once or twice a week – his mom doesn't have a car.  Despite the small inconvenience of the trip, on days like today when I have too much on my mind, I welcome the distraction.  I’m learning to find hope in my students too.

This particular boy always wants us to be first out of the parking lot, but I've never asked him why.  Rarely do I pull out of my parking spot before my boss, and he exhales an audible sigh of disappointment in the back.  “Man, she’s going to beat us.”  This day is no different; we are second.

He comments all the way down the road on how far ahead her white hatchback seems – will we ever catch up?  He wants me to drive faster.  His excitement is palpable as we pull up to the stop light and wait to turn – we are directly behind her.  I honk and she joins in the fun, playing a modified peek a boo game in her rear view mirror.  As the light turns green, I say out loud, “I’m not sure we’re going to make this light.”  The green doesn't last long and we are barely positioned within the turn lane.  I hear my student plead, “Please stay green, come on, come on, stay green.”

It’s not until later, as I reflect on my week and all it has held, that I wonder – why was he so intent for the light to stay green?  Who was he pleading to?  I remember being a kid and doing the very same, the promise of a game continued was exciting.  I wasn't concerned with how long the game would last; I only wanted to keep it going.  As we sailed through the still green light and his cheers of success leaked out the car’s cracked windows, I was struck by the simplicity of his request and the joyous result when it was granted.

The more I chew on this experience, the more I see God in it.  As I fought my way though each day last week, feeling the strain of life, I felt as if I were trudging through knee deep mud.  But I was reminded in this interaction that God desires to give us good gifts.  He hears every whispered request, no matter how big or how small, and he is overjoyed that we would come to Him and ask.  But we need to ask.  What a privilege to see a request so immediately answered, a game continued, a memory made.  I have no way of knowing how such a small interaction may have changed this small boy’s view of the world, or his relationship with us as leaders, but I am grateful for having been a part of it.

I've always been told that working with students isn’t just about you teaching them – it’s about them teaching you.  I was reminded not to be afraid to ask for what I need, no matter how big or how small.  It doesn't matter how urgently I ask, or how loudly, what matters is that I ask and then watch, in hope and expectation, for the answer.

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