Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Rojo's 8th grade class went on a retreat today. Most of these kids have been together since kindergarten. To say they know each other well is an understatement. In fact, they played a "How Well Do You Know Each Other?" game, and it was a 3-way tie between 3 of the 4 teams (my team lost, but let's not dwell). They are more siblings than anything, and if you ask me, you just can't put a price on that. I do believe they'd go to the ends of the earth for each other, and some of them already are, and some will be called to, and all will respond.
It's always a mixed blessing to be with Rojo and his whole class. I am simultaneously bombarded by the fact that he is anything but typical (can you say, "Sore thumb?") and the fact that he is 100% accepted, put up with beyond belief, and embraced.
Earlier in the day each kid drew a name of one of their classmates. They were then asked to write in their journals, how this classmate had been a gift to them, and to others. At the end of the day Rojo's Resource Room teacher, Liz, (who, thank GOD came at the last minute and who saved the day multiple times), led the group in what she called an agape meal: bread, grapes, grape juice and a toasting to each other's gifts. She explained that agape means love - but a certain kind of love, unconditional, the kind that God has for us and that we're called to have for one another.
Liz demonstrated how the whole thing would work, she would pick someone to start, they'd read what they'd written about the person whose name they'd chosen, then the person who'd just been read about would read, and so on, until each kid had read, and each kid had been bathed in agape. But before she picked a kid to begin, she said beautiful things about both J. and Rojo, "her" two students. She talked about the fun things she and J. had done together this year, and all the other wonderful things about J., of which they are innumerable. To Rojo she said, "Thank you for teaching me everything I needed to know about teaching special ed," Of course that got my tears flowing - especially since this is not her first rodeo.
Then later both of Rojo's truest and bluest friends, the two that have been there through thick and thin since kindergarten, the two that have held doors and zipped zippers, flushed toilets and buckled belts, come over to play and brought their friends, and the two that most recently baptized him, they both spoke. One had actually drawn his name (no accidents) and one shared lovely things about the person he'd drawn, then felt compelled to also comment on Rojo.
* Photo from http://www.agape-loves.com