This week Rev. Moreland remembers the gifts two teachers gave to his community: their spirit and their love.
My friends, Gary and Rebecca, are sterling examples of dedication to the vocation of teaching. They are to be commended for their sense of community too.
I first met them when they came to Dixon County public schools, for their first teaching assignment, in a town where I was the minister at the Methodist Church. For three years, their enthusiasm and commitment heartened our community and our church. Students and their parents were inspired by their focused lives, and the care and compassion they gave to everyone they met.
I often watched as children rushed to greet them, arms wide, the better to give and receive hugs. They were heroes and models that embraced our community even as they inspired us.
Gary and Rebecca excelled in the task and challenge of education our children. As all teachers do, they spent many after school hours grading papers, creating lesson plans and decorating their classrooms. They were indefatigable, diligent and competent in their teaching. When they left our district three years later, they did so with the affection and appreciation of both community and church.
The highest compliment I can give to teachers like my friends, Gary and Rebecca, is that I wish they were available to teach my grandchildren. Our teachers in Clarksville merit equal appreciation for the quality they add to our schools and our lives.
Last week, I read for my devotionals writing by another teacher, Nancy Mapes, who shared a story in The Upper Room Devotional (9/7/07). Her words enlightened me, and the longer I meditated on them, the more I experienced spiritually.
Miss Mapes shared the following anecdote with a spiritual application for us:
“As a teacher in a music program for parents and their young children, I often sing a lullaby at the end of class. The soft music is soothing for the children. I also encourage the parents to sing to their children at home. Some parents are hesitant, feeling they cannot sing well. I assure them that children prefer the sound of a parent’s voice over that of anyone else, even a professional or trained singer.
“Their attitude reminds me of how I sometimes approach my relationship with God. Often I have felt that my simple, halting prayers do not sound as profound or polished as others I have heard. Yet I know that God longs to hear my voice. My heartfelt prayers, however awkward they may sound to me, sound like music to God.”
As Miss Mapes said so well, we too can grateful that God is attentive to our voices. With the Psalmist, we too can say:
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”
— Psalms 116:1 (NIV)
If you wish to obtain a copy of The Upper Room Devotional, visit any local United Methodist Church.