Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living and Learning

Reflections on the School Year: Some Things I Learned

An announcement came over the PA system calling us from our rooms for an urgent meeting in the library. Early, unscheduled conferences are not a good sign – something was up and unsettling news was expected. Our principal, Toni, read a letter to the faculty from one of our teachers who had welcomed her first baby over the summer. The stunning words described a genetic disorder that had been detected for the precious, innocent infant boy – expected heart defect, learning disabilities, facial malformation, and a long road ahead with challenges in his life. With tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats we stood in a large circle of about 60 people joining hands and hearts while one said a prayer out loud – voicing a plea for the baby that all of us were simultaneously groaning on the inside.

I had never heard of Williams Syndrome. Like many others, when I left the group my first action was to Google it on my computer and look for more details, possible reassurances. We had given a joyful shower to support the nursery design of Texas Rangers & Dallas Cowboys – how could this tragedy happen to one of our own??!! Our prayers that began on that teacher work day before the start of the school year continued as we met Calin, held him, cuddled him, cooed at him and kept track of his progress through his mom’s occasional updates after doctor visits and shared pictures as he grew.

Traditionally in the Christmas season before our weeks of holiday break, the school staff participates in Secret Santas. We draw a name and bring little gifts of things that person likes and then reveal to our secret person with a larger gift on the last day. Rather than pulling a name for the adult gifts, this year many chose to donate instead to the Angel Fund for Calin. The whole school made contributions to start a fund to support his special needs for medical and other care expenses. The family was presented this account at a Pep Rally and graciously accepted our gift of love and money.

Last night there was a featured segment on the TV show, 20/20, that detailed some of the joys and frustrations of people with Williams Syndrome. Seeing the interviews and the videos of children in a special camp environment helped me better understand the situation. Here’s a link to a replay of the show:

Where Everybody Wants to Be Your Friend; Sunny Personalities, Serious Consequences

So what I learned in school this past year was not really about the 3 R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. My faith was strengthened by lessons in love and the power of prayer.

Matthew 19: 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I John 3:1-2 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and such we are…Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.

Abba, Father- Help us to pause and learn from the children around us.  Remind us to take time to give them attention, guidance and love. Restore to us our once held childlike faith - faith in you, faith in other people, faith in the infinite possibilities of the world.  Restore to us the innocent sense of wonder.  Make us aware of joyful little details that we have missed in our hurry - butterflies and lizards, sunsets and stars, dolphins and turtles. Thank you, thank you for your creation, your care, your calling us to be your children.  Amen.