Seek the good!
This week, I was invited to speak with our fifth graders to give a pep talk about their behavior. On the way to the room, I rehearsed my talk. I would speak to the boys about being too physical. I would remind the girls that they should not exclude one another. I would speak about honesty and respecting the property of others. After entering the room and greeting the students, I began to take my seat on a cushioned bench in the front of the room. As I was taking my seat, the room got quiet and all eyes were focused on me. Something was not quite right. The teacher’s eyes widened in apprehension. I paused. Nate rushed to my side saying, “Mr. Gartside, I got your back”. He then adjusted and repositioned the seat cushion to make it secure, saving me from an embarrassing moment. We all smiled, and I thanked him for thinking of me. Even though he cheated his classmates of a spectacle that would most likely have featured my legs in the air, most of the students were glad that he had rushed to my aid. There are a lot of things that are special about this moment. Nate never hesitated even though there was a risk that he would be derided by his classmates. His classmates did not deride him. They had his back!
I have taken to listening to audio books instead of the news to occupy my mind during my long commute home each day. The latest book is one that I would recommend. It is not a new book but one that was on my list for a number of years. A Man Called Ove is one of those books that helped to restore my faith in humanity. It was a delightfully uncomplicated book that speaks to the goodness that is inherent in all human beings. People are good by nature. Sometimes we forget this and focus our attention on negativity. Life would be so much more pleasant if we were able to refocus our heart’s eye on people who put forward their better selves. I recommend this book as it is filled with many valuable life lessons. It speaks to the power of love, to the importance of celebrating difference, and how we must never give up.
Last Saturday I walked the 5K Race to Educate. I felt as though I was walking on air. All I saw were smiles. I was walking in a “No Negativity Zone”. I felt the common effort. I felt community. I was particularly energized when I saw Brenda and Ciara, two of our second-grade students at the 4K marker with their arms filled with litter. When asked about it, they simply told me that it was their job to keep the environment clean!
I often speak or write about the importance of instilling values in children. When you see the efforts of parents and teachers come to fruition, it is a beautiful thing to behold. The world is a beautiful place. We need only to look for the beauty that is rooted in God’s creation. I am blessed to see it all around me at Saint Columbkille. Thank you, Nate, Brenda, and Ciara… and everyone who made Saturday such a delightful day!