Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Message Received

"You will find, as you look back on your life, that the moments that stand out are the moments when you have done things for others."  Henry Drummond 

Every year, each classroom at my kids' grade school sponsors a needy family for Christmas.  And, every year, we get a list of items that family needs.  I have made a point of taking my kids shopping for these items and teaching them the importance of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.  
This year, I got a note from my daughter's third grade teacher about the special "Christmas Service Project" in which the third grade teachers participate.  Every year, they collect money to provide gifts to the children of one or two families of County Jail inmates.  The project is conducted by a local charity which purchases toys and new clothing, and then bring them to the school for the children to see what their cumulative donations helped to provide.  The children learn how families are affected by unfortunate circumstances and the impact it has on a young person's life.  

I was a bit taken aback by this request initially.  I mean, in my mind, these people are in jail because of their own doing.  The rest of us conduct our lives so as to avoid these problems.  I was going to boycott this project, and then my daughter begged me to send something.  Reluctantly, I sent in a small monetary donation.  

Yesterday, my daughter came home, and she seemed a bit upset.  They had been working in groups in class, and a little boy who sits next to her told her that his father is in jail and he went on to describe how he was physically abused by his father.  I asked my daughter if she knew any more details, and she didn't.  Then she decided that she didn't want to discuss it any further.  We were both upset by this news.  She has known this little boy since kindergarten.  He is outgoing and funny and just a joy to be around.  I have talked to his mother from time to time.  She is very nice but very introverted.  I never knew there was a father in the picture.  

I am amazed at how provincial and self-righteous I really am sometimes.  I silently said a prayer for this little boy and his mother.  And at the end of the prayer, I looked skyward and said, "Message received, Lord.  Thank you."  

"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance."  St. Francis of Assisi

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