Teach children in the right way,
and when old, they will not stray.
It's teacher appreciation week, an important week any year we celebrate. But this year, deep into quarantine, I believe teachers are more greatly appreciated and missed than ever before. Whether or not you have kids, you've probably imagined the increased load of time and energy spent on reworking lesson plans, curriculum, and years of refinement to create a new way of delivering vital information that will sustain their students in the following year's instruction. They do this under the same stress as the rest of us and many of them with kids of their own to teach and help at home. Those of us who have become amateur teachers of our kids, grand-kids, nieces, nephews, and neighbors for a time have found new levels of appreciation for their talents, patience, pay, and service, as well as a reminder of how grateful we are for our own former teachers.
Sheltering in place, most of us have time to revisit our streaming services and movies we missed this past year. If you haven't yet watched maybe the best one, go watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and perhaps Won't You Be My Neighbor? too from the year before. They're worth the rental price, even if you cannot stream them. I own both and will happily loan them. First, they recount the life of one of America's finest educators and pastors, Mr. Rogers. And more importantly, they both contain one of the most important spiritual practices he taught us. If our greatest teacher, the Rabbi we find in Christ gives us our finest rubric for prayer in the Lord's Prayer, then one of the great quiet saints of our faith, St. Fred gives us the greatest practice of Gratitude.
Mr. Rogers, time and again, would begin by introducing his exercise, "We'll just take a minute and think about all the people who loved us into being." As he speaks the words in the bustles of a small diner, people slow, and as he looks at his watch, everyone in the room stops to reflect. He did this many times in his life and he was rarely surrounded by dry eyes. I'd encourage you to do that this week. Right now. Pause for a minute. But give yourselves an extra 30 seconds to call to mind the teachers of your kids and our kids at JCPC, from preschool to high school. Was their job harder this year? Did they get to say goodbye? Did your family thank them? Did you build bridges for closure. Many teachers are broken-hearted not to get final goodbyes from students they have labored to love into being. You have a few weeks. Seek out ways to give teachers a thanks for the hardest year yet. Mr. Rogers would be proud of you.