Last Wednesday was test day in all of my five academic classes, the last test before we begin reviewing for semester finals which ended today, December 19. I usually give tests on Friday instead of Wednesday so we were off the routine just a bit. And as we always do, when the questioning part of the test was finished, each student made a card. The cards are always for someone who is sick or grieving or in some way needing encouragement. Eight days ago, we wrote a WCS grad, Jonathan Miller, whose father died last week and whose funeral was this past weekend. As is my custom, I told my current students about my former student and showed them FACEBOOK pictures of father and son. Typically, my teacher's aide Megan goes through the cards before we send them but I glanced at several that afternoon after school. I picked up Elizabeth's and read it. The kids make the cards colorful and include a message of hope while telling a little bit about themselves. After several sentences of condolences, this is what this eighth grader shared:
I play basketball. I can't now, though, because I tore a ligament in my foot and I haven't played in a single game. But I notice things that others don't.
She's right. Elizabeth got hurt in early October and has been unable to play or practice since. (Hopefully we will get her back after the Christmas break!) I delivered the cards to the funeral and Jonathan came by WCS on Monday and thanked my students by thanking me. He's made those same cards- the difference this time is he is the recipient. I wished I could have introduced him to Elizabeth but there were other things to talk about, including a card from Bailey which could turn out to be yet another blog! Elizabeth and Jonathan share a great deal in common besides a school and a few teachers. Both are extremely bright and motivated with the blessing of terrific families. I really appreciate what Elizabeth shared with Jonathan, a stranger. She is learning a difficult truth but an enlightening one. She has found out when you stand on the sideline in practice or sit on the bench during games with no chance of being beckoned onto the court- at least yet- your observations have a different level of clarity. When you are physically involved, you focus on yourself and the how am I doing? aspect of the game. But when you can divorce yourself from the action, things become clearer. Like who always plays hard and who is listening/playing attention. Like who is improving day to day and whose emotions are showing up in their effort level. Observing doesn't take the place of playing but it does, well, open your eyes.
From reading the Gospel accounts, we see that Jesus was always observant. He saw situations which went unnoticed and people who were invisible to the naked eye with which most of us view our surroundings. Look at this passage from Luke 21, verses 1 through 4:
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The Master saw the rich and the poor, didn't He? I can't say if His men did but they did not make the connection the Savior did. It's hard for us to see others when we are wrapped up in ourselves. We miss the hurting and the lonely we are exhorted by the Gospel to minister to. Elizabeth is aching to come back on the floor- I get an update daily. When she is cleared, she will come back a better teammate, a better friend, a better player in the cerebral sense, all because she has learned to notice things that others don't. I wish they had given me that attribute when I had my Lasik surgery. I would have come away from the surgery as a better coach, a better friend, a better teacher, and a better disciple. And maybe, I could see what Elizabeth means.
Applicable quote of the day:
“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”
To watch and listen to the Guess Who perform These Eyes, click below!
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org