I was on my hands and knees, reaching into the dark depths of my bedroom closet, pulling out boxes and tubs of stuff I had stored there for my old age. They were full of pictures and greetings cards and crayon drawings our children had made. They held souvenirs from vacations, postcards and old letters, newspaper clippings and magazine articles I wanted to read again. “One day, when we are old and can’t do the things we used to,” I told my husband, “we can pull out these boxes and remember the good times we’ve had.” What was I thinking! Who has time for that? And, I needed the space. So, there I was with my head stuck in my closet, determined to sort through and toss out anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
In the farthest, darkest corner was a cardboard box sealed with silver duct tape. Scribbled on top with a black magic marker were the words “Things from a former life.” It was my handwriting, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what was in it! I tore off the tape, took off the lid, and sat back on my heels to look inside. It was full of mementos from my early school days; autograph books and pom-poms, notes passed in study hall, yearbooks full of pictures of me and my friends with angelic smiles and terrible hair styles! Then, at the bottom of the pile, I found a stack of old homework papers that I had saved; each with a comment written across the top from teachers I had known.
“Don’t quit! I know you can do it!” one wrote. And, “Great work! You have a talent for this!” wrote another. And, even “What happened? I know you can do better than this!” Looking back, I realized what an impact those teachers had made on me – how their words of wisdom and encouragement had helped shape me as I grew, had stuck with me, and would come back at odd moments. Their patience, kindness and genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of their students did make a difference; in my life and in the lives of so many others. They instilled in me a life-long love of learning, and I thank God for them.
I wonder where they are now; all the teachers I have known. I wonder if they are still alive. If they are, I know they are still teaching, some way, some how, because good teachers are not made, they are born. The ability to make the light bulb come on in someone’s head is a God-given gift that never ends.
I put the lid back on the box, smoothed the tape back on, and stuck it back in the corner of the closet without throwing away a thing. Some day, after I am gone, my children will go through that box, and they may learn something about me that they might not have known otherwise. Maybe they will see how I came to be the person I was because of the knowledge passed on to me by teachers I have known. And, I hope that I have passed on some of the learning I received to others I have known. So, here’s to all you teachers! Thank you!
With blessings in all your learnings,
Pastor Barb <><
The Lord has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Isaiah 50: 4