I have a fourteen year old girl in my class Sundays. She's got some delays–which is why she's still in my class and hasn't moved on with her peers. Unfortunately, I haven't made the effort to thoroughly understand those limitations; after a few weeks of getting no response at all from her, I'm afraid I almost forgot she was there.
She sits in the far corner of the room and she doesn't look up. Never moves or speaks. Sometimes I come home from church and go over the girls and their needs in my mind and I'm not even sure if she was there or not.
This last week we were talking about talents and gifts. It was one of those days where everyone wants to talk but not necessarily about the idea at hand. We were short on time and I wasn't entirely sure we were getting anywhere coherent–but on we trundled.
During the last few minutes, I asked the girls to write down–anonymously–things they felt they could bless other's lives with. After everyone handed in their papers, we read aloud things like, singing, dance, smiling, etc. Some were a bit of a stretch and there were many repeats, but there were some good ideas. And then the girl in the corner stood up. She came to the front of the room and thrust her paper into my hands. Smiling a secretive little smile.
I glanced at it, expecting childish scribble, and then I looked again. It read:
And it was like this child had taken my busy, distracted face in both hands and smiled down into my soul. I don't know what Glmph meant, if anything at all. But Hope.
I know hope. Sometimes I forget how very well I know it.
I have had so little hope for this girl's interactions in our class. Forgot that she even needed it. Forgot that she even existed so silently there in the midst of all the bubbling, giggling, noisy young women obscuring her from my view. I was so ashamed and yet she was not. She sat there smiling at me for all the world like we were best of friends–and we were–because she had not given up hope in me. In my ability to smile back at her and to take her efforts seriously.
I can do that.