As the school year progressed, the cutting marks on her arm became easier to spot and the school guidance counselor informed us of her plan to commit suicide. My daily attempts to say good morning or good afternoon continuously fell on deaf ears and she sat in class with a freighting blank stare as she seemingly contemplated her troubles. The student’s demeanor suggested that she would rather be anywhere else but in my class. In reality, it may have been exactly where she needed to be.
Much to my surprise I received an email from that student’s mother a year later…
“I wanted to say thank you for the impact you have had on my daughter, who you taught last year. She really enjoyed your class last year and would often share with us what she was learning and “Mr. Bacchus quotes.” You are truly a gifted teacher and we feel very blessed that you were a part of her education. The lessons she learned in history were important but much more important was the foundation for her future that you helped create. She left middle school with a love of learning, a new outlook on life and goals for academic achievement. She had a few difficult years in middle school but as she completes her first year of high school she just shines. She has made the honor roll, is involved in school activities and has developed a social conscious. I am unable to thank you enough for your dedication. You have truly inspired her and made a difference in her life and I’m sure countless others.”
Mr. Bacchus quotes? I didn’t even receive eye contact when I talked to her. I pictured myself as Charlie Brown’s teacher and her hearing “womp womp womp womp” as I spoke. Yet, she was going home and sharing things I said in class. I set stunned as I read the words and amazed at being given any type of credit for this transformation. I wondered if the mother may had been confused and sent the email to the wrong person but I was really the one who was mixed up. I was unable to grasp the impact our fruit (gifts and talents) can have on someone else’s life.
The confusion was based on my belief that I knew when, where and by whom my fruit (gifts and talents) should be consumed. I failed to have the faith of an apple tree and know that as long as I produce good fruit it will be eaten. The apple tree doesn’t get anxious and worry whether someone from a local town or someone from another country eats its fruit. It doesn’t stress if a bird devours the apple or if it falls to the ground to provide sustenance to the earth. An apple tree knows if it produces good stuff it will supply nourishment to someone somewhere at sometime. Imagine if an apple tree became upset and stopped producing its fruit because the person it believed needed it the most didn’t eat it. How many other people, animals, insects etc then would be lacking?
In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner was told, “If you build it they will come”. I am seeing that if you produce it they will eat it. It may not be eaten when you thought was best, where you believed it should occur, or by the person you thought would benefit the most and its not supposed to. We can’t fathom the impact God has intended our fruit (gifts and talents) to have on someone’s life. So be like the apple tree and just produce good fruit. Not worrying about when, where and by whom it will be eaten but finding peace in knowing as I was reminded via this email that the person who may seem to have no interest in the good stuff your producing maybe the one who is consuming the most.