Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Gratitude is a beautiful thing.  I've been full of thoughts of gratitude all month long. Today I realized what a strange thing it can be though.  We did a Skype chat with one of our Reach the World classrooms. And I left with such overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity, I had to blog while I am still full of the emotions that it filled me with.

Picture it.  Here we are sitting in sunny and warm Florida...hanging out in our lounge chairs next to the palm trees.  Living a leisurely and good life. On the other end is a fourth grade classroom. In Harlem.  Living...well, I don't know how, because I've never been to Harlem. But I'm guessing it is not so warm and maybe not so lazy of a pace. 

That's not the point though. Because it's not like we were sitting around feeling sorry for them because we are in Florida and they are in Harlem.  We've traveled enough to know that every place is interesting and has it's pros and cons.  So it's not pity moving us to be here.  In fact, we were not really sitting around feeling anything but excited to do this.  We want to give this classroom full of wonderful little people whatever it is they might ask of us during the chat. Stories, information, maybe just a chance to talk to someone living somewhere else.
On the other hand, we are not so naive that we aren't aware that they may in fact lead a harder in some ways life than we currently are.  We realize just being in school might be a daily challenge.  Getting good grades and having great attendance might be something that presses heavily on them and is a giant victory when they do succeed in reaching those goals.  We trust like most children, they are warriors in their own ways.
But none of this is on our minds at this moment.  Mostly I am just filled with excitement that I get to do this chat with them.  And I'm wondering how Austin will do with it all.  The point is, I am completely self absorbed really.  Just full of myself wondering what I can give and hoping it is enough and so grateful to have the opportunity.
The point is, I'm not thinking at all about what this might mean to them.

Then the beauties and cuties file in and we see them on the webcam.  They are awesome. Bright and shining faces and all.  Nervous grins so we are waving at them to ease them (and ourselves).  The teacher says how excited they've been to meet us. That they showed up on Monday waiting to chat. (We had to cancel and reschedule due to our travel plans) And then she says...they dressed up so they'd look their best for you.  I look and see that they are in fact dressed up.  In their Sunday best.  To meet us.

At which point I lost it. I mean, started crying right on the spot.  Had to step away from the webcam to pull myself together. These amazing people were so excited to meet *us* that they dressed up to look their best for it???  Seriously???  Oh, my.  I didn't quite know what to do with that except stop and revel in the wonder of it.
These lovelies were extending such a precious gift of gratitude to us.  Wow.  It's a rare moment in life when you realize equally mutual gratitude is happening right at that very moment.  I mean I've been on one side or the other many times and it's a good thing to be on either side.  But to have both of you be so filled with gratitude and sharing it in this communal way.  It's a deeply spiritual thing.  It changes you.  It is something words can't quite capture.

I was just showing up to do a chat on our travels.  I had no idea such a beautiful gift would be given to me.  Incredible!  What a wonderful, and oh so fitting way to head into Thanksgiving.

Thank you, Ms. Johnson's class.  I can't wait to meet you in person.  It is a given I will cry even harder then.


Shelby said...

That is SO neat! What a wonderful experience!

jaci said...

What a heartwarming post, Krystal. I love the photo of you looking down, too.

That's just a feel-good story. Thank you!

unschoolermom said...

What an awesome story! Thank you!


Anonymous said...

OH my! What a great essay. I cried too.
I just love how you said "We've traveled enough to know that every place is interesting and has it's pros and cons. So it's not pity moving us to be here."

And also that you are not naive!

You rock Krystal.
PS, I swiped the picture of you! ;-)

love on you,

Tonya @ Live the Adventure said...

This is great and sounds like a wonderful opportunity for all involved! I think it's great that you are able to share a bit of the outside world with children that may never leave their neighborhood. That's hard for us to comprehend, isn't it? We have distant family that have never left their 'holler' in KY. When we stopped by to visit we asked them to go to Cumberland Gap with us and they wouldn't go because it was too far away...about 30 minutes! Those poor kids have no idea what life is like outside the poverty and despair of their home town. I only hope that they read or have the opportunity to participate in a program like you're involved in. Blessings!:)