Here’s a true story!!!
It was approaching Thanksgiving
and Mrs. Klein—
a first grade teacher in a
poor inner city school
told her first graders to draw
a picture of something
they were thankful.
She thought of how little
who lived in such a deteriorating
and crime plagued neighborhood
actually had to be thankful for.
She knew that most of the class
would draw pictures of turkeys or
Thanksgiving tables filled with food. . . .
not because that’s what they would
experience in real life—
but because that was what
was expected of them
What took Mrs. Klein aback
was little Douglas’s picture.
Douglas was sad most of the time—
no telling what his home life was like.
At recess Douglas was likely to be
found close to Mrs. Klein—
he was like her shadow.
It’s the one place he felt secure.
Douglas’s drawing was simply this:
The class was captivated by his picture.
“I think it must be the hand of God
that brings us food,” said one student.
“A farmer’s hand,” said another,
“because they grow the turkeys.”
“It looks more like a policeman,
and they protect us.”
“I think,” said little Lavinia,
who was always so serious,
“that it’s supposed to be all the
hands that help us,
but Douglas could only draw one of them.”
Mrs. Klein had almost forgotten
Douglas in all of this—
enjoying the engagement and
creativity of her sometimes
struggling first grade class.
When she had the class start
on another project,
she bent over Douglas’ desk and
asked whose hand he had drawn.
Douglas mumbled, “It’s yours, Mrs. Klein.”
That’s what he was thankful for.
And he gave her the picture.
Then Mrs. Klein recalled how many times at
recess she had held Douglas’ hand. . .
and how eager he was
when she offered Douglas her hand.
You can imagine how precious the
picture of her hand that
Douglas drew is to Mrs. Klein.
A picture that screamed the words “I need you”—
That said, “Thank you”—
“Thank you for caring about me.”
That picture—to Mrs. Klein—
was more valuable than any Picasso—
or any Monet—
or any Matisse.
And anytime Mrs. Klein thought
about taking other jobs that paid more—
or that was less stressful—
or that may be considered more prestigious. . . .
she would look at that picture
of her hand that Douglas drew.
It made it all worth it!!!
Just simple words or expressions of
thanksgiving can make all
the difference in someone’s life.
Here’s another very interesting story.
We all know that there is a
high divorce rate in the US—
and that there is a high rate of
break up for cohabiting couples.
Wouldn’t it be great
if someone could predict—
with a high degree of certainty—
if a marriage or a relationship
was going to last before all the
pain of a breakup or a divorce.
Well, psychologists John and Julie Gottman can.
They’re specialty is relationships and marriages.
They can predict—
now listen to this—
they can predict within 94 accuracy
whether a relationship will last or not. . . .
And guess how long it takes them
to make their prediction.
15 minutes. . . .
They just have to observe a couple for
15 minutes and they can predict—
with 94% accuracy—
if the relationship will last. (Kelly, Culture Solution, 22-3)
Here’s how they do it.
They created what they call their “Love Lab.”
It’s an apartment where a
couple spends 24 hours together.
The apartment has cameras in
each room so the couple can be observed.
And when the researchers analyze the tapes—
they look for just one indicator.
Positive verses negative interactions.
Positive verses negative interactions with each other.
In a 15-minute period—
if the couple has 5 positive interactions
for every 1 negative interaction—
then there is a 94% chance the
relationship will last.
5 positive for every 1 negative.
in our minds,
we may think that one positive comment
cancels out one negative comment.
Someone needs to have five positive experiences
to balance out one negative experience.
How we interact with each other is so important.
You know the old children’s rhyme:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never harm me.”
Well, we all know that’s not true.
We’ve all been hurt by someone’s words—
and we’ve all said some things that
have hurt someone else.
I know I have.
The sticks and stones saying
should be more like this:
“Sticks and stones can only break our bones—
can break our souls.” (Adapted from Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, 170)
We know it’s true.
I sure wish I could take some of my words back.
And we also know how someone’s words—
or thoughtful actions—
can change our day—
or even our lives. . . .
think of the picture that little Douglas
drew of Mrs. Klein loving hand.
Listen to Proverbs 15:4—
The soothing tongue is a tree of life. . . .
but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Or Proverbs 12:18—
The words of the reckless pierce like swords. . . .
but the tongue of the wise bring healing.
I started thinking about all of this
when I read today’s Gospel.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem—
where he’ll be arrested and crucified—
And he encounters ten lepers.
And Jesus heals them—
but it’s only one—
it’s only the Samaritan who comes
back and thanks Jesus
for his life-changing healing.
And it made me realize that I am certainly
not as grateful—
not as thankful as I should be.
I have been—
and continue to be—
Not only by God—
but also by so many of the people
that God has put in my life.
You see how we interact with each
other is so important.
5 positives to counteract 1 negative.
And a positive—
a “thank you”—
can change someone’s day—
or someone’s life.
And being thankful can change
our own day—
or our own life. . . .
Because so many times
we focus on the negatives in our lives—
and not the positive.
The negative has way—
way too much power over us.
And don’t forget to thank Jesus.
He’s the ultimate source for all
the positives in our lives.
Jesus has a human heart too.
Can we pray. . .
I know that there is a host of people
around me who are eager for—
and in need of—
words of blessing
I am too often distracted and
absorbed in myself
and am not the instrument of
love and healing that You
created me to be.
Help me Lord, Help me.
help me to guard my lips so that
I don’t wound someone deeply
with any harsh words.
let me forget to thank You—
the Source of goodness—
for all the many blessings of my life.
Amen. (Adapted from Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, 170-1)
Holy Spirit 10/12-13/2019