A few years ago, I said goodbye to a colleague/mentor/friend. I normally hug her neck at the end of the year lunch we have at school, but Miss O. slipped out before anyone noticed. I figured I’d see her around the first of August since we both tend to go up before the rush to set our rooms up for the new school year. I thought about maybe working registration this year and chuckle at how she would always have all of her Washington DC trip materials piled high on her rolling chair, pushing it to the gym to convince more 8th graders to join her on this magical trip. That warm June afternoon, as I sat in the funeral home chapel among a crowd of students, faculty, and family, the weight of finality began seeping its way into my heart when I realized registration and the school year will not be the same. I also remembered not saying a proper goodbye just a few weeks earlier. If only there had been 5 more minutes.
That thought of “if only I’d…..” is a universal regret we often feel after losing someone. However, that concept of taking 5 more minutes doesn’t have to be connected to the death of loved ones. How many times have we heard in response to “go to bed and turn off your light” the “ah mom - just 5 more minutes!” I was notorious for missing my curfew because I hated the idea of thinking I’d miss out on something really fun. That idea of “just a few minutes more” can be our outlook on life as a whole, especially in the midst of pandemics, protests and other unnerving events. What kind of impact would simply taking 5 minutes of listening to your child or spouse share about their day create? What about taking a few minutes to allow the elderly gentlemen to skip ahead of you in line at the grocery store with his small basket of items? As a teacher, what would it hurt to spend a few minutes after school listening to a student pour out his/her life to you because they feel you care. Now, more than ever, our students need this void filled. Trust me. It all causes ripples.
Taking those few minutes (if for the right reasons) to make a small difference is in my opinion one of the most Christ-like things we can do. I am remembering the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. He didn't have to spend time listening to her or talking with her- it was a choice. I don't know if he went out of his way or if it was circumstances that brought him there. To me, the nugget is he took the time to listen to her. She knew he cared. I can hear some of us saying, “He was Jesus. That's what he does!” We are supposed to be like Him - so now what will we say?
By the size of the crowd at my friend’s funeral that particular afternoon, I am going to go out on a limb and say she took time to make those around her - friends, family, co-workers or students - feel appreciated and cared for, too.
So think about this. What can you do - just something simple that only takes a few minutes - that causes the ripple? Judging by the morning headlines, there isn’t enough kindness in the world or at least the kindnesses are not being noted. Your simple act of kindness might just be what is needed today.
Take 5 minutes and make a change.
Suzy Winter is a wife, mom, new grandma named ZuZu, and a recently resigned English teacher rediscovering her first love - writing. She lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 35 years and their 9-month-old rescue pup named Abbi. As mentioned, she is a recently resigned teacher thanks to the pandemic, yet she knew she could not ignore her call to teach, so she currently helps students through online tutoring which is wonderful helping students from all across the USA all while sitting in her favorite chair with Abbi tucked in beside her. While she did not bake bread like a madwoman, she did bake cookies, zucchini bread, and homemade pasta. Okay - she may have made one loaf of Irish Soda bread only because she needed a good snack to eat while watching Hamilton for the 4th time. Writing is just another form of teaching, so she feels this call even stronger as she writes about her experiences in her journey.