Friday, February 3, 2017

The Favor

I had a feeling the evacuation drill would last awhile. All the email notices hinted so. After the entire school left the building, our own CERT (community emergency response team), would be responsible for clearing the building. As we passed their young faces, their official bright green vests and hard hats, they looked like preschoolers dressed for Halloween.

The soccer field was covered with a blanket of snow. As I slid down the snow and ice covered slope, the teacher next to me went down. Ahhh to be on display! I managed to stay upright.

I had planned for the outdoor excursion and had worn my knee length black down jacket. Few things are worse than standing outside in the cold. As we stood on the field, I was warm and this was even fun. Snowballs started flying and I even tossed one myself.

Our students however, were not so well prepared. They wear shorts to school. Skirts without tights, and few students had on jackets. I became aware of Anastasia's situation when a small crowd approached to show me her purple-cold legs.

My first instinct was to wrap her legs in my protective coat, but self-preservation hesitated mightily, until a soft internal voice whispered, "This is a chance to redeem yourself."

I went back to a day that has haunted me for almost 20 years. I was a parent chaperone for a morning excursion up the canyon. It was one of those spring days when the weather should have been sunny and warm, but nature rebelled. The wind howled and surrounded us with cold. I'd awoken that day sick, but because of my commitment and my daughter's expectations, I dressed warm and wore a coat. As we climbed out of the bus, and the cold came upon us, several of the children were unprepared. That voice of kindness spoke again, "Give that child your coat," but I refused.

All these years, I've regretted my self-only concern.

Anastasia gave me another chance. I insisted. She fought me. She finally gave in.

It's hard to take a coat, to let someone help, to be the vulnerable one. It's even harder not to offer the coat, to help someone, to be the wimp--it may even power to haunt.

She came in after school to thank me. "You're welcome." I didn't have the strength to tell her she'd done me the favor.