“The best things are the nearest: breath in your nostrils, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
“It’s back to school time, yes indeed,” the man said while handing his credit card to the cashier. “It’s back to learning something again.”
The man in front of me commented on the many children and parents combing the store aisles for school supplies.
I thought about what the man said and chuckled. I knew what he meant, but it sounded like children hadn’t gleaned anything over the summer and that school was the only place that learning occurred. Fortunately we have many terrific teachers in many wonderful schools where quality education takes place every day, but schoolrooms are clearly not the only place that happens, nor are youngsters the only ones learning.
I thought of some of the important lessons I’d learned lately:
I learned the value of living in the present. My teacher? Our 5-month-old grandson, Declan. Babies are a breathing bundle of blessings, and when I hold a baby, nothing else matters. Worries melt away when Declan melts into my arms and his sweet face reminds me that there is so much that is sweet about life. Whenever I hold Declan, I totally focus on him, pray for him, and enjoy every little sigh, stretch and smile. I live in the moment, cherishing the moment.
I learned how good it feels to help others. My teacher? Our 3-year-old grandson, James, who looks for ways to be helpful. He volunteers to unload groceries, asks to work with his mother in the kitchen, is eager to assist his grandfather fixing bikes in the garage and frequently asks how he can help. His dimples dance, he stands taller and he uses a lower voice whenever he’s being helpful.
I learned about choosing to avoid temptation, and the wisdom in asking for help doing so when needed. My teacher? Aubrey, our 4½-year-old granddaughter. One night we ate dinner at El Torito Grill and Aubrey ordered a children’s burrito, which came with french fries. We’d all already eaten several handmade tortillas, so Aubrey’s mother wisely removed half of the fries, telling her to eat her burrito before she ate the remaining ones.
Aubrey busied herself with her burrito, and then stopped, put her fork down, and sat there quietly for a few moments. She was outwardly silent, though I could tell the wheels in her mind were cranking away.
Finally she looked up at her mother and said, “Mommy, can you please take the french fries away? It’s too hard to not eat them when they are right in front of me.”
I learned to focus on the inner qualities of people and not on their outer appearances. My teacher? Our 6-year old granddaughter, Mary. One night at dinner with daughter Kelly’s family, Mary was especially enjoying eating edamame. She repeatedly opened the little green pods and popped the soybeans into her mouth.
While doing so, she casually said, “When I’m older and I’m a Sunday School teacher, I’m going to bring edamame and say that you can’t look at the outsides of people, because it’s not the outside that matters.”
She stopped momentarily to open another pod, looked at the soybeans inside before popping them into her mouth, quickly ate them and continued her thought.
“It’s the inside that counts, that’s where the taste is. God doesn’t look at the outside of a person, but at the inside. We should do that too.”
I learned that an apology is always appreciated. My teacher? An unknown driver who almost hit me in a parking lot but then waved and mouthed the words “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” the minute she realized what she had done.
I learned the joy of sharing life with others. My teacher? Several of my friends. We gave a baby shower for a precious young first-time mom and we laughed, shared wisdom, prayers, and gifts for the new little family.
I learned that God is trustworthy. My teacher? The world around me. It begins with the sun faithfully rising every morning and setting in the evening, followed by the night sky filled with moon and stars, and all the beauty in between. Every new day proclaims to me that I can trust God with the path of life He has set before me, that there is much to learn and many to love along the way.
The school of life is always in session.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]