to Thee we raise

November 23, 2011


Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise . . .”
I am grateful. Grateful for the life of privilege I so easily forget that I have. Grateful for the privilege of freedom to choose. Freedom. How easily I forget that I have freedom, in this life of security concerns and restrictions. But truthfully, I am here because I choose to be. How privileged I am to be able to make such a choice!
That truth hit me hard today, as I taught my Grade 7 class. They were giving speeches today, introducing themselves. And once again, as I so often do, I was caught up with my daily stresses and my list of things to get done, of work yet to do. But as I listened to them talk, I was humbled, and I was cut short in my mental to-do list.
One of my “trouble makers” was speaking when it happened. He began light-heartedly enough. But as he spoke, we all got more quiet, more reflective—even the rowdiest amongst a notoriously rowdy group of adolescents. He spoke of his family’s evacuation from their home country, when the t@lib@n invaded, and rockets demolished their home. As people in the neighborhood died, and tried to escape, his family climbed into a bus that was passing. 10 days and 10 nights they spent on this bus, making their way through the country, sleeping in mountains and gardens as they went. As he described it, “We went through very bad days that time.” So it was that his family arrived here, where they make their home now. It was no easy transition. They had little food, so that one time, when he was two years old, he described eating 11 bananas at once because a relative had brought them over and he was so hungry that he ate them all at once . . .
I listened to this student today, and to others in my class, and I was reminded of all the freedom I enjoy, even when it does not feel like my daily life includes any semblance of such a thing. But I do have great freedom. So here now—in this place, and in this season—I watch the leaves change colour and the snow cover the mountaintops—and I give thanks.

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