Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I used to be a school teacher. I still am a school teacher, although a different breed of teacher now that I am 'retired' from the public school classroom and am homeschooling my own children. Tonight the phone rang, and the conversation that ensued brought back a memory from my classroom days. Sometimes, when the room was quiet and abandoned for the day, I would walk around and straighten up. Although my students were only in first and second grade, the hugeness of their personalities their 'realness' somehow sized them. They were real, delightful, troublesome and a lot of work at times. I was their teacher and they were huge, consuming and worthwhile. As I would straighten up, inevitably I would gather a coat from a heap on the floor. A coat from a huge being. A tiny coat. I remember holding up a coat and marveling at the smallness of this garment which belonged to a hugely real being. They were small children, those first and second graders.
I have a friend who is very ill. She has been ill off and on for as long as I've known her. I met my friend in the early years of my homeschool wanderings when our sons were in a basketball class together. In the years I've known my friend I've learned of her liver transplant and the trials of her Hepatitus C which was the cause of her own liver failure. She lives graciously, practically, faithfully and optimistically. A few days ago I learned she was in the hospital. Prior to that I knew that she wasn't well and my concern was swelling--I hadn't seen or spoken to her in a month. I had a huge sense of sorrow and a tangible sense of her frailty--like one of those tiny coats.
Yesterday, I intended to leave a small package on her doorstep. Just a token, a care package. To my surprise, she opened the door. I was stunned but went inside to visit for a few minutes. Today I saw her again and then tonight she called. What a blessed reassurance. The coat is tiny but the being is huge and real.