When I was in the fifth grade, my classmates and I were not doing so well in
geography, and we expected a major reprimand.
Instead, the teacher brought to class a large wooden puzzle of the United
States. He never said a word about it; he just placed it on a table by the
window. After lunch, we began to toy with it, timidly at first, then
eagerly. It was homemade of fine, laminated birch, about three by four feet.
The fragrance of the wood reminded me of my uncle’s cabin in Minnesota,
surrounded by white birches.
We took turns putting the puzzle together. Then my friend Butch suggested we
divide into teams and have competitions putting it together. So it became a
regular lunch-hour contest, as fierce as any football game. In order to win,
we had to work together and we had to refer to our geography book.
It was amazing, after that, how often we knew what the teacher was talking
about when he referred to Boise, Idaho, or Mystic, Connecticut, or the
Golden Gate or the Alamo.
I’m grateful for that gentle, wise teacher and for all the others who have
taken the softer, more indirect approach with me, like
~ my boss who took me to lunch, instead of taking me to task
~ the way my wife quietly slips a paper towel under my coffee cup, instead
of lecturing me about being 65 and still spilling
~ the student who comes privately to my office after class to tell me I made
a factual mistake, instead of embarrassing me, her teacher, in front of the
Easy does it better, and I hope to find alternative ways to handle those
tense and awkward situations when I would like to use a club on someone. And
so I pray, “Father, with all Your power and authority, You are as gentle as
a grandfather. Every day this new year, make me gentle like You. Amen.”
[adapted from Daniel Schantz]
Dr Bob Griffin
“Jesus Knows Me, This I Love!”