I started to write yesterday about an experience that I had as a substitute teacher, and found myself off in a completely different direction, which is fine with me, but the memory of one moment, keeps coming up.
This particular day, I was assigned to a kindergarten class in Bolton Landing, NY. The teacher was out, but her classroom aide was there…a fact that I was most grateful for since I knew nothing about running a class, and this was my first (and only) day at this school. My gratitude was short-lived however, because as I expressed it to her, and thought she’d be happy to show me the ropes, she said, “You are the teacher. I’m just the aide. I get paid to help out, not to run the class.”OK. Well, here I go, “teaching” a bunch of 5 year olds, all day, under the critical eye of this woman. I wasn’t looking forward to it.
I somehow made it through the morning. At snack time, everything changed. The kids pulled out their little bags of crackers and cut-up vegetables and I went around to make sure everyone was eating. I stopped at a table where a boy and girl were talking, just as she was asking him if she could have one of his goldfish crackers. He responded by violently scooping them away from her, with the biggest scowl, and yelled, “No!” Less than a minute later, he said to her, “Can I have one of your….”(i can’t remember what she had as a snack but I remember her reply)… She looked at him with the sweetest smile and said “Sure” as she let him take some of her snack. I thought “My God, what I just witnessed was amazing. This little girl had no hesitation, resentment, no righteous indignation…”
There were many “memorable” moments in my few short years as a substitute teacher, but this stands out as one of the greats. If I could forget as easily, (as this little girl did), all of the petty (and not so petty) harms and slights that I had repeatedly remembered over the years, how much sweeter life could be. So often people will say to me, “I have forgiven, but I’ll never forget.” And I always think, “Then you are going to keep suffering, because every time we pull up an old harm, we have to re-live it, we re-feel it and that is a very hard way to live.
“Forgiveness means letting go of the past“. Gerald Jampolsky