Have you ever used a brain-storm connections chart? Circles and lines, boxes and dots, large arrows and small, here a color, there a color to describe conditions or choices. In the end the lines of greatest impact are visibly represented, areas of import highlighted. That is what swirled within my mind as I reviewed today’s gratitude thought: for whom in my life am I grateful?
Of course my parents and progenitors were significantly highlighted. Friends forever, friends for a while, acquaintances for now and those who left impressions for good or bad in our passing. The lessons I’ve learned from them have often changed the direction of my life, brought joy or pain, brought illumination of heart and soul, or sometimes a cloud of darkness and fear.
Today’s brainstorming chart filtered down to Mrs. Rambeau, my first grade teacher. She not only taught me to read and write, but she taught me a greater lesson about love, about my responsibility for caring for one another, and for my actions.
She taught that lesson on a rug in the corner of our classroom. Some of us were bullying a girl. We had made fun of her and made her cry. We hurt her heart so badly she didn’t want to come back into the classroom. I don’t recall what or why this group of girls coalesced against her, but we did. Not willing to let a teaching moment pass, Mrs. Rambeau sent the boys back outside and called us “onto the carpet”.
I remember sitting in a semi-circle facing her. I remember her eyes were sad, but her voice was firm and I remember this as the first time I felt shame for my choice and behavior. She didn’t yell, she didn’t demean, she spoke softly of kindness, of caring, of seeing ourselves in this young girl’s place. She taught me empathy in those few minutes. She also taught me that saying I’m sorry is only the first step in repairing the damage caused by my actions. I have to show that I have changed by doing something to reach out and be a positive change in their life or circumstance.
Today I am grateful that I had Mrs. Rambeau in my life. She was a gift. I sincerely try to be kind, more caring, more willing to walk in someone else’s shoes than I am a ‘mean girl’; some days I am more successful than others. To that end my friends, if you’ve felt any pain or fear from my actions or words, I sincerely apologize and ask your forgiveness. I’m sorry, is there some way I might make it up to you?