The Lesson Plan

The Lesson Plan

From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Lesson Plan

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

Okakura Kukuzo

It was just an ordinary day. The children came to school on buses; there was the usual hubbub of excitement as they greeted each other. I looked over my plan book and I never felt better prepared to face the day. It would be a good day, I knew, and we would accomplish a lot. We took our places around the reading table and settled in for a good reading class. The first thing on my agenda was to check workbooks to see that the necessary work had been completed.

When I came to Troy, he had his head down as he shoved his unfinished assignment in front of me. He tried to pull himself back out of my sight as he sat on my right-hand side. Naturally, I looked at the incomplete work and said, “Troy, this is not finished.”

He looked up at me with the most pleading eyes I have seen in a child and said, “I couldn’t do it last night ’cuz my mother is dying.”

The sobs that followed startled the entire class. How glad I was that he was sitting next to me. Yes, I took him in my arms and his head rested against my chest. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Troy was hurting, hurting so much that I was afraid his little heart would break. His sobs echoed through the room and tears flowed copiously. The children sat with tear-filled eyes in dead silence. Only Troy’s sobs broke the stillness of that morning class. One child raced for the Kleenex box while I just pressed his little body closer to my heart. I could feel my blouse being soaked by those precious tears. Helplessly, my tears fell upon his head.

The question that confronted me was, “What do I do for a child who is losing his mother?” The only thought that came to my mind was, “Love him. .. show him you care. .. cry with him.” It seemed as though the whole bottom was coming out of his young life, and I could do little to help him. Choking back my tears, I said to the group, “Let us say a prayer for Troy and his mother.” A more fervent prayer never floated to heaven. After some time, Troy looked up at me and said, “I think I will be okay now.” He had exhausted his supply of tears; he released the burden in his heart. Later that afternoon, Troy’s mother died.

When I went to the funeral parlor, Troy rushed to greet me. It was as though he had been waiting for me, that he expected I would come. He fell in to my arms and just rested there awhile. He seemed to gain strength and courage, and then he led me to the coffin. There he was able to look into the face of his mother, to face death even though he might never be able to understand the mystery of it.

That night I went to bed thanking God that he had given me the good sense to set aside my reading plan and to hold the broken heart of a child in my own heart.

Sister Carleen Brennan

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