I ask him to place his bag in his locker and he said in a timid voice, a voice most likely been quietened all too often, ‘I have to keep my bag with me at all times.’ And he walked into the classroom and sat at his table staring at the cold computer screen. The computer that would supposedly test his knowledge of the science world. Give him his personal number grade along with every child in the school system.
We can all say it’s been a hard week. A tiring week.
Too much rain. Not enough sunshine. And end of the year school tests. The tests for our children. The minutes are never ending.
Many years ago I promised myself I wouldn’t complain about the weather because God sends us what we need. He has the vision of tomorrow. I don’t. But sometimes it’s difficult to not complain. Question difficulties, while we view others in an unknown light. We wonder why it is–our own personal storms and then there are those who never whisper a word. Suffering in the silence.
In a few short days these school tests will be finished and they will either shout to our children, you are among the highest in intelligence or you just don’t measure up. You have work to do. Period. Sadly though, many of our children see and hear far beyond the number. ‘You have never measured up. In anything. You. Never. Will.’
And he wears a cross around his neck. This young boy with the bag.
I watch him and the other children in the classroom. Many are clothed in soiled clothes, shoes untied, designer jeans, and labels, oh the labels.
Their eyes and faces tell their story–some drowning in defeat. Some just don’t care. Period. But perhaps it’s because they believe within their heart no one cares about them. And then there are the students who care too much. Because it is all about the scored number. Have they been told their success in life all depends on this golden test number?
There’s deafening silence in the room and I want to know each of their stories. But maybe I don’t. Because their stories–maybe some would be too hard to hear. Too much. Their eyes wonder from the screen and some of them make quick eye contact with me. Moving on to the next question.
And there’s the boy who wears the cross around his neck. And his bag. Is it medical supplies or a security blanket? Is it his lifeline or his life?
He takes his necklace off. The one long and on the end of the cord hangs this cross. And he gently places it around his neck once again and the cross it dangles right below his heart. The heart of this boy that Jesus loves.
Hands are raised in the air. The test is completed and the students they sit in quiet groups slowly letting out the stress in quiet conversation with their friends. And the boy who wears the cross he sits alone. Watching.
I want to run to him, hold his beautiful cross in my hand and touch his face. I want to tell him the one he wears the cross for sees his loneliness and his struggles. I want to cry with him and reassure Jesus is always a prayer away and he is not alone in his brokenness. But there is this still small voice whispering to me, he already knows of this love. The strength of the cross. He knows.
And outside the sun shines after days of rain. The boy who wears the cross. He reaches for his bag, unzips the bag and then closes it. He walks out of the classroom. And the cross, it still adorns his chest, wrapped tightly close to his heart.