Wednesday, July 15, 2015

From Dull To Shiny

My mother passes on several pieces of silver she either inherited, purchased, or received as wedding gifts over fifty years ago. She'd held on to these pieces, and I often wondered why, because they had mostly turned black, but remained on shelves, in drawers, and in the back of the pantry. I certainly never wanted them either, but when she moved, they were stacked on the counter, on the floor, for whomever was willing to take on the polishing drudgery.

It's silver, I reasoned with myself. It's valuable, it has sentimental meaning, and so I take a few pieces of the discolored antiquity. Heirlooms.

After polishing, washing and buffing, I understand why, in movies, the British servants and the southern maids are always polishing the silver. But when I see how a little bit of work can transform and beautify, the task becomes a treasure bounty. I end up polishing all the silver pieces, photographing them, and sending the photos off to Mom.

It is a rather joyful endeavor, turning something dull, into something shiny.

I am listening to a missionary tell his story. He and his companion have an appointment to teach a woman, but she isn't home. Disappointed, the two young men walk away from her house. While doing so, a car swerves to a stop and an apparently drunk man gets out of the car. When he climbs out, the missionaries see he is covered in tattoos and his intoxicated demeanor is an immediate deterrent. One of the missionaries dismisses him, but he is chastised by the words and feeling that comes to his mind: You came on your mission to help people just like this man. They turn back, converse with the man who agrees to listen to their message.

The man has no interest in religion, but he had recently come to the conclusion, if he didn't stop drinking, he would die from alcoholism. He gives religion a chance.

After four days of soberness, the missionaries convince him to go to church, but when they pick him up, he's passed out on the couch. They start over. Again, and again. Patience, love, polishing and eventually a miracle. The man enters the fold and never knew he could be so happy.

From dull to shiny.

From the polish of the master's hand.

Two discolored, tarnished plates

Polished portion on the left

Mom's souvenir from a small silver shop in Holland.     A butter dish now fit for royal service

It is just the end of July, but I am already gearing up, preparing, for the coming school year I will spend with mostly twelfth grade students. Their last year of high school... and so I am ultra challenged to turn the dull into shiny. How will I make getting up before 7:00 worth their time? How do I make Henry V, into a character they will honor and learn from, let alone read? How do I challenge their minds to see the important lessons in progressivism, the Civil Rights struggle; how do I help them realize essay writing really will benefit their lives?

Patience, love, a lot of polishing, and in turning the dull to shiny, hopefully their minds will have the same transformation.