Before I forget...
I had a really great day this last Monday. I didn't want it to pass by without recording it. (I'll honestly forget it ever happened if I don't write it down. Isn't that sad?)
Every Monday, I go to the Middle School and mentor a young man (5 years ago when I started he was a little lad, but he's in 8th grade now). When I first started mentoring him in 3rd grade he was getting in fist fights in the halls and on the bus, way behind in homework and failing classes, and dealing with a home life where his older sister had cancer and was in the hospital more than at home. In fact, they lived in the hospital as a family for several months the first year I met with him. His father had left them and at the time he saw him once a year in the summer, but when I asked him a couple weeks ago if he'd seen his dad this last summer, he shook his head no and changed the subject. It's a sore subject.
Well anyway, it was Monday morning and that meant it was our weekly time to get together. The week before he couldn't meet because of the shift of the trimester and the way his classes were restructured, so I was hoping we could meet this past week. (Part of me wondered if he was losing interest in meeting with me just because he was getting older and it was feeling more and more weird for this older dude to come in and chill with him. It's different when they're younger and I guess I was just feeling like he was getting ready to "break it off"). I walked in and waited for him to round the corner as the kids got out of there classes and hurried to their lockers and off to their next classes. There was no Jason. It was as I feared. I thought, "He just doesn't want to tell me to my face that he doesn't want to meet anymore." I waited, then I walked into the administrators office and asked if Jason was absent. They said no, that he was in choir and that they would page him and have him come down. To be honest my heart felt a constriction because I felt like it would be obvious he didn't want to meet, but when he finally made it to the building entrance where I was waiting, he was all smiles.
He asked me how my Thanksgiving was and we walked toward the conference room where we do homework, talk, and play various board games. He pulled out UNO and proceeded to shuffle up the cards and divvy them out. We played a few games and then he said, "Let's go out into the halls and find the elves!" He explained to me that the teachers hid 5 elves around the school and he had found 4 of them. Lickety split we were darting around he halls looking for the 5th elf. It was fun to see the joy in his face. After a while, we couldn't locate it, so we returned back to the conference room and started playing UNO again. He was up on me 3 games to 2 and being the competitor I am, I told him he was going down the next game.
I had one card left in my hand and was sure I was going to win when I heard him say, "When you see the three cards I have in my hand you're going to chase me around the table." He laid down a Draw Two, a Reverse, said UNO, and then laid down the last card. He bolted out of his chair and in moments I found myself chasing him around the table like we used to do in 3rd and 4th grade. I love how he tipped me off as to what he wanted me to do by just making a statement of what I was going to do when I saw what he had in his hand.
When I finally caught him and I put him in a headlock and gave him a noogie. He was giggling like a little school girl. We got back to the table and the very next hand he pulled out an impossible victory and immediately shot up from his chair and started to dart around the table. I shot under the table and reach out and grabbed his ankle and took him down and started to wrestle with him for a second. In a sense, I couldn't believe this was happening when about 45 minutes before I thought we might never meet together again. It was a great time together and I felt God was just shining down on me.
Later that afternoon after lunch at Flat River Grill, I was getting ready to leave and there were five elderly ladies leaving the restaurant together. I was behind them when all the sudden one of them turned around quickly and bumped into me. I put my arms out and kinda hugged her trying to buffer the collision. I think she had forgotten something at her table. I apologized for running into her and she said, "No, that's ok, I like hugs." I immediately said, "Well, I'm a hugger, you want a hug?" She nodded and I just gave her a big hug and she held on for dear life. I told her I didn't have a grandma anymore so I missed grandma hugs.
Her friend was right there and immediately said, "What about me, do I get a hug?" I turned toward her and said, "You better believe it!" After giving her a hug, their 3 friends were outside on the sidewalk waiting for them and one of them said, "Hey, do we get a hug from a handsome young man like yourself?" I smiled and headed out the door and said, "I don't mind if I do!" I made my way to each one of them giving them a hug and saying Merry Christmas. It was a great moment and as I said goodbye and turned to leave I heard one of them say, "There is still good in this world." That phrase has been ringing in my ears every since I heard it.
It's amazing what can happen when we put ourselves in places to bring joy to others and open our eyes to the basic needs people have for connection and love and encouragement all around us.
It was a day I won't every forget.