Something beautiful happened at church tonight. We went to the 5:30pm mass like we normally do on Sundays and sat in our usual spot. Shortly after we arrived one of my third grade students showed up and sat in the pew in front of us. He comes alone, and when he sees me at school he always asks if I’ll be at the 5:30pm mass on Sunday. I respond that I’ll be there and he tells me he’ll be there as well. It’s good to see him at the mass. I like to think that I can be a good role model for my students outside of the classroom.
Another person who always comes to the 5:30pm mass is an older gentleman. He normally arrives late, sometimes more than halfway through the mass. He walks slowly and with a walking stick that looks like it used to be a broom handle. He carries the same bag made out of an old feed sack, and he’s often wearing the same clothes which are dirty and stained. Then he sits several rows ahead of us. And even though he appears very frail he always gets on his knees to kneel on the wooden kneelers when the time comes during the mass. I’m not sure where he lives or how far he walks to get to mass, but I can he’s a person with great faith.
This evening he sat in the row in front of my student, two rows in front of us. When it came time to shake hands and give peace to the people around you I decided that I wanted to shake the old man’s hand. I shook the hands of the people around me and then looked at him. I hesitated. I’m not sure why. I guess I was feeling shy, the way some people do when they want to do something but then something else holds them back.
It was nearing the end of the short time we have to greet each other with peace. I started to think that maybe I wasn’t going to shake his hand. Just then, my student turned around and looked at me for an instant, smiling. Then he tapped the old man on the shoulder. When the old man turned around my student shook his hand. Immediately, my eyes welled up with tears. I felt so proud of my student. I got up and went to shake the old man’s hand as well. As I sat down I wiped away a couple tears from my eyes. It was a beautiful moment for me, watching my student do something that I wanted to do but was hesitant about.
Tonight, my student was a good role model for me.