It was a day of firsts. Most notably, as remembered by everyone who worked at the school, the first time she experienced indoor plumbing. Not something a typical American experiences for the first time at the age of five. But this school isn’t typical, and neither is her life.
She would stand in front of the toilet and flush it repeatedly. Sometimes this would last thirty minutes or more. That’s hard to fathom for all of us. But it was reality. Over the course of the next few years, she would touch the hearts of teachers, aides, cafeteria workers, and custodians time and again. There was always something special about her.
This place has seen a lot of children who live in poverty. This place has seen some of the most difficult situations in a pretty large radius around it. Every single one of those children finds love and compassion in here. But some of them are just a different kind of special. She is one of those. Yes...a different kind of special. The kind of special that just makes you smile every time you see her. You can see her twenty times in a day and she will bring you joy twenty times. Words can’t even express why.
I guess that is why, after three years of hard work, everyone wanted to be there to celebrate her reading that paragraph. Everyone wanted to see it and hear it. Everyone wanted to share in that moment with her. And they celebrated it with cake...because she probably gets to experience something like that as often as she does running water. Inside that building.
Years ago, Peter wrote this line, “And above all, love one another deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” The words of the Bible ring more true than ever. Being loved brings us confidence. It gives us joy. It makes us desire more from life. And it overcomes the mistakes of parents and grandparents. It conquers the places where the darkness has prevailed. It erases debts that nothing else could erase.
Love makes a little girl, who would never care about a book, want to learn how to read. Love makes a child who can’t understand life at all, want to make that teacher proud. Love can transform a life. I have watched it firsthand. No wonder when the wisest man who ever lived was asked what the greatest command was, the first word out of His mouth was “Love…”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31