Thursday was our last school day before (hallelujah!) Spring Break. My teammates and I planned a field trip for our first graders to a bakery owned by a sweet friend of mine and a local park. I should preface this story with the fact that the bakery and park are local to me, not my kids. I live in a small town about 30 minutes from the small city where I work, both in the same county.
I had an IEP meeting (Individual Education Plan for any "non-education" folks who are reading this- it's for students to get the EC (Exceptional Children) Services that they need) Thursday morning, and pretty much as soon as it was over, we loaded up our 74 first graders onto two yellow school buses and started our mini-trek across the county.
We had to take the "back way" because of what roads we are allowed to take yellow school buses on, so we drove through several small towns that I grew up knowing. My town shares a high school with a few of these towns we passed through, so I have friends from high school who grew up all along our route. It's a drive I have taken so many times; it's a drive I have taken for granted.
But my kids didn't. They were completely blown away by "how much space" was between the houses, how "big" the houses were (for perspective's sake, they're the smaller end of average for our area), how "nice" the grass was, how much grass there was, and how many trees we have. We drove past a farm, and they got SO excited over seeing "real life" cows and horses, many of them for the first time. The railroad is still very active in my area, and the kids got so excited each time we saw or heard a train. We drove into downtown to go to the bakery, and you would have thought we had taken the kids to Manhatten they were so excited. One of mine commented that, "Ms. Moran, it looks like Atlanta!" and several others asked if we were in NYC. (If you've been to my hometown, you will appreciate how hilarious that is. If you haven't, imagine "Small Town USA"). We walked into the bakery and they were completely awestruck- most of our kids had never been to a bakery. After the bakery, we walked downtown to my church, where we had parked the buses. The kids marveled over the "rich" brick sidewalks, how "big" and "awesome" my hometown is. We went to a local park to eat lunch. The park is beside a river, and, upon seeing the river, no less than a dozen of our kids exclaimed, "Look, Ms. Moran! It's the ocean!"
Their reactions both made me smile and cry.
It was a precious experience to get to see and hear my kids' reactions to things they were seeing and experiencing for the first time. To be one of the people who was able to help give them those experiences is so humbling and such a blessing.
It also made me feel a little ashamed of myself.
How many times have I driven that very road without noticing the cows or horses, or, better yet, complaining about being behind a tractor? How many times have I walked down the sidewalk downtown in the sunshine with an orangeade from Charlie's, completely neglecting to realize how lucky I am to live somewhere that I can walk down 1- a sidewalk and 2- do so feeling completely safe? (Also, if you've never had an orangeade, it's liquid sunshine.) How many times have I complained about there being "nothing to do"?
My kids reminded me what it means to be amazed on Thursday, what it is to be completely overcome with wonder. They did so just in time for Easter.
This Easter Sunday, as you celebrate with your loved ones, I hope you are completely overcome with wonder at what Jesus has done for us. I hope you look around and are amazed at His world. I hope your plate at Easter dinner is as full of love and joy as it is delicious food. I hope you never take for granted His promises.
The next time you drive through your hometown, look at it as if you're seeing it for the first time. I promise, it will take you by surprise and leave you feeling grateful.