Tuesday did not turn out as planned, but that was okay. The joy of being retired is that I can change my plans and adapt to the needs of the day.
There was a shooting and stabbing early Tuesday morning in front of the high school near Columbia Elementary. The stab-wound victim, left for dead, was found by police when they arrived to check on gun fire report. Using CPR while waiting for an ambulance, they revived the 17-year old victim and he is currently in the hospital in critical condition. When I heard this on the early morning news, I felt compelled to put on my chaplain’s uniform and show up at Columbia even though I’m not beginning to work with the first graders until after Labor Day. I figured the school could use another adult on campus.
I arrived at lunch time and spent two hours in the cafeteria, first helping the kindergartners and first graders open their food packages and encouraging them to eat their vegetables. Then the third and fourth graders arrived. The third graders are the first class of students I worked with as chaplain. They started shouting my name when they saw me at the front of the cafeteria. They all wanted to show me how they were eating their vegetables and reminded me that I gave stickers if they ate all of them. I ran out of stickers!
Then the fifth and sixth graders arrived. The kids who were fourth graders last year remember the help my friends and I gave them to do their mission project and many of them gave me hugs and said thanks for all of the help. Some of them asked if I would visit their classroom again. I’m always explaining how I work with the first graders. Even the second graders ask if I can come read stories in their classroom. The kids see no reason why I can’t come to their classroom, too.
This is what I am pondering: could I show up one more day each week at Columbia and just have lunch with the third/fourth graders and then the fifth/sixth graders? It would have to be another day from my regular schedule because I am reading stories to the first graders when the older kids are having lunch. The older kids have gotten to know me. They seem to like seeing me. It would give me an opportunity to make an impact on more lives. And who knows, maybe I would learn of another project in which I could involve my friends.
Another change in my plans: After leaving Columbia, I went by the school supply store and bought lots more stickers.