When in doubt, sing a song of faith

By Joan Clayton: PNT columnist

Another school year will soon be gone before we know it. I still miss the little people, and the memories still linger in my mental files.

When I began my teaching career, the school where I taught had no kindergarten. My class of first graders experienced “new separation anxiety” in the worst way. They were so bewildered, they cried uncontrollably for hours. That school looked mighty big and foreboding in their young eyes.

On that first day suddenly one student began to sing louder than the children’s wailing. My first impulse was to walk over and tell him he mustn’t distract the children, which was a joke … they were already crying. I walked over to the doors that opened out to the hall and quietly closed them. I turned around, and to my surprise, the children had stopped crying. They had picked up their pencils, and some were even working. My student’s peaceful song had brought peace to my classroom.

Now, 31 years later, that special moment comes to me, and it comes when I need it the most. I remember that song when a serious illness threatens a loved one. I thought of that song in the hospital room when my mother said, “I see the heavenly lights.”

Sadness overwhelmed me when my ailing aunts had to go to the rest home. Yet through it all, I remembered a little student’s song of faith.

One day a little boy came to my desk teary eyed. “Teacher, when you pray tonight, will you please pray for my kitty? He’s gone.”

“I surely will,” I answered.

The next morning he walked in smiling. “Teacher, guess what? My kitty came home last night.”

Another student greeted me one morning saying, “Teacher, I prayed for you last night. I asked the Lord to keep you.”

My student didn’t know my mother had made her heavenly flight that night.

I shall never forget the beautiful young lady who knocked on my classroom door one day. I motioned her to sit down so I could finish story time. When story time was over she said, “Do you remember me, Mrs. Clayton? I was in your first grade class 10 years ago? We had to move to California. I felt so alone and frightened. You took me in your arms and told me everything would be all right. I’m in college now to be a teacher like you.”

We both had a good cry.

An unforgettable “special moment” involved our youngest son when he graduated from high school. My husband (being the high school principal then) proceeded to hand out the diploma to Lane, our last son. A Kodak memory in my heart still sees Lane as his big strong arms reached out and hugged his dad with all his might. The crowd cheered, and I cried.

As beloved Mother Theresa once said, “It’s not what you do in life, but how much love you put into it.”

I put 31 years of love into my job, and it has paid me back with a lifetime of loving memories. Sometimes I look through my “treasure book” and have a good cry.

When Traci, my granddaughter, was 5 years old, she said, “Mawmaw is a Christian because she cries a lot.”

Yes, I’m emotional. Crying is what I do best.