Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Really Good ...
Alecia phoned to bring me up to date with current happenings in her world. I must say that hearing from her is one of my life’s richest highlights. In the course of our brief conversation (she was calling on a quick break between classes) she spoke of one of her students. It seems that this particular young man is challenged by his pencil sharpener. You know the sort. That tiny plastic holder of a metal blade that one introduces the pencil into and turns the pencil until the little ribbon of removed wood reveals a freshly pointed lead. Well, this particular maneuver is beyond the abilities of the young man in question. He continually finds himself with a lead that is broken off inside the sharpener. Thus, he cannot accomplish the sharpening task.
I should point out here the fact that Alecia is certified as a Teacher of students who are identified as being in need of the program that addresses the individual requirements of ‘Exceptional Students.’ That is, students who life has presented with all manner of physical, emotional, and mental challenges. And this young man (age 11 or so) has had his particular challenges manifested in the tangible form of a repeatedly-broken pencil lead.
Having addressed this difficulty every day for an entire week, Alecia had the student confront her with a declaration, “You are really good at this! You should do it for a living.” … then a grateful smile. She thanked him and thought, to herself, “I am doing this for a living!” as she enjoyed the humor in that recognition. “With all of my education, specialized training, and accumulated experience, I am un-jamming broken pencil leads in cheap plastic pencil-sharpeners 'for a living'." And she just had to share the humor of this reality with her Dad (me.)
We had a good laugh, and I suggested that she might want to embellish her resume with this newly developed ‘professional skill.’ Then she was off to her next awaiting requirement at the school. It was then … in the ‘after-glow’ of reflection … that I allowed my many years of working with my son, Matthew, and those who comprised his world (those Individuals struggling with just the sort of hurdles that Alecia addresses every day) to inform me.
Imagine,if you will, the position of someone who sees everyone around him accomplishing the mundane and ordinary task of sharpening a pencil … and not being able to achieve success in your own effort to do the same. Place yourself in the stead of that One who is compelled to ask for assistance … yet again, and again, for an entire week … with this elementary chore.
Which brings me to a contemplative moment of consideration … as I ask … what opportunity to un-jam Someone’s ‘pencil-sharpener’ are we addressing in our individual life-path today? Are we edifying that Other as we pause with their moment of need? Or do we consider all of our Station, Position, experience, Role, expertise, or Importance of too great a significance, or value, to dally with such small and bothersome matters as we are being asked, by Life, to contemplate.
I would hope, for all of us, that, as the scriptures so beautifully entreat, we would ... “in whatever you do in word, or deed ... act with your intentions directed toward all that is eternal and the most pure ... giving thanks for the gift, of each opportunity, to do … and to be … what benefits others.” (The book of Colossians chapter 3 verse 17 [John-Michael’s version])
I pray that it be said, of each of us, by every Life that we are privileged to touch, “You are really good at this!”
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