Many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around the time I was in kindergarten. Those memories hold images of skipping and playing and having the freedom to just be Me. That age (around 5 years old) has also been a place in time where it feels like things shifted for me. Kindergarten was a time of living fully in my true self as a little person and also the time that I became aware of the heaviness and darkness that exists in the world. (The entering of paradox, perhaps?)
My most joyous memories come from being in Mrs. Peck’s kindergarten class. It was a private little house just around the corner from my home. I remember the independence of being free to skip around the block on my way to school. To this very day, I can sense the embrace of Mrs. Peck when I hug women who feel like her. Her whole being resonated unconditional love.
Yesterday as I was sorting through some photographs, I came across a cherished picture of me with my beloved teacher. I remembered the photo and was delighted to find it again. The bonus of the day, however, was a letter in her handwriting which I do not ever recall reading before. The envelope had my name on it and said, “Kindergarten Report 1961-62.” While I could regale you with tales of my brilliance at this young age (and there is no doubt I was brilliant ☺), I was most struck by this paragraph.
“It has been most gratifying to watch her development. She is a sweet child and one any parent could be proud of and I know you are. Yes, she is quite right I do love her and it has been such a pleasure to have her in our class. She is most interesting to me.”
Obviously I had picked up on her love for me and shared it with my mother (with great emphasis no doubt.) I have always known deep in my heart that she loved me, but also questioned if I had built it up in my imagination. What a gift to find these words of confirmation almost 50 years after they were penned (for she had not only written them, but also underlined her words of love)! This is a huge affirmation of the power of unconditional love for it has sustained me in ways I cannot begin to fathom. I believe Mrs. Peck is a lovely example of Christ's incarnational love.
The timing, of course, could not be more appropriate. During this season of Advent that emphasizes the importance of waiting, I often ask, “Waiting for what?” An obvious answer is we wait for Christmas; for Christ’s coming. But I believe it is more than that for God is always with us as reminded by the name Emmanuel (translated - God with us) and evidenced through people such as Mrs. Peck. Most often we have no idea for what we are waiting. Little did I know that I was waiting to receive this confirmation of love that had marked my heart with indelible ink.
For what are you waiting this season of advent? Will you allow yourself to rest in the mystery?
photos: Mrs. Peck & me...circa 1961-62