Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thank you, Miss Gladd

When I was in 1st grade, I had Scarlet Fever...this back in the day when it was deadly serious.  First a stay in hospital in isolation, them home but still quarantined for some time. 
By the time I was permitted to return to school, I was still frail and was not able to play at recess.  Instead, I was benched.  Each day I sat, my back to the wall, and watched the children play, feeling blue that I could not join them.
My teacher was a wonderful woman, Miss Gladd, who lived up to her name.  After a couple days sitting there, feeling forgotten with nothing but my disappointment keeping my company, she came and sat beside me.  She'd brought a small piece of string.  She asked for my hand, and tied the piece of string to my finger, as she told me it's purpose.  She said to me, "This is to remind you that God has you on this bench for a reason"  and explained it was up to me to figure out what that reason was. 
I was stumped as I daily sat there pondering her words.  Then, and I remember this so well, my friend Susan came over and sat with me.  We were both just sitting there with our backs against the stucco wall, eyes on the playground, and she began to tell me about a sorrowful thing that was happening in her family.  She talked and I listened.  I don't remember saying anything to her at all.  And I don't recall what she shared specifically (God has gifted me in that way).  What I do remember is Miss Gladd coming to sit by me second recess, and telling me she'd seen that I'd maybe figured out a bit of why I am here.  I felt the grace of God, before I ever could have named it as such.  I do know in that moment there aroused in me a longing that stirs in me still, my first memorable inclination toward God.
On Fat Tuesday I came across a thin ring, made to look like a knot around your finger.  With that ring, this experience, long forgotten, came back to me in a rush as clear as the blue sky above.  I am wearing it for Lent, a reminder to remember that God has me 'on this bench' for a reason. 
I have learned since my childhood the wisdom of that first principle shared earlier for Ash Wednesday...everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.

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