“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
I loved my first grade teacher. Her name was Mrs. Gross but there was nothing gross about her. She had a such a sweet smile and kind way about her. I wasn’t sure what her age was at the time but she already looked very grand-motherly. She was soft spoken and had a very gentle sense of humor. Unlike some teachers she never yelled at or criticized her students. To me it felt like having a second grandmother as my teacher. Every day I arrived at her classroom and sat happily at my desk with a big smile on my face. Throughout all my years of school I always remembered the times I spent in her classroom the most fondly.
One such memory is still with me to this day. We were doing subtraction math problems that were printed on the chalkboard while Mrs. Gross walked through the classroom checking on our work. I finished first and lifted my head up just as Mrs. Gross walked up behind me. She looked at my work and smiled. Then she said: “This is really good work, Joe. You are a very smart boy.” As she walked on she gently touched my shoulder and I felt a tingle in my heart. It felt so good to be seen. It felt so good to be appreciated. From that moment on I always tried my best. I always worked hard. I always wanted to be as smart as she thought I already was.
Would I have done as good in school or in life if I hadn’t had Mrs. Gross as my first grade teacher? I don’t think so. She awakened a desire in me to be the best person I could be. With her gentle love and encouragement I started down a wonderful path that I am still on today.
David Whyte wrote “People are hungry, and one good word is bread for a thousand.” I think the good words Mrs. Gross gave me helped me to share my own good words with others. I think the love and kindness she showed me helped me to give love and kindness to others. Mrs. Gross showed me just how much effect one soul can have on another. And I thank God for putting her in my life.
In this life we give much more than we realize. Every kind word, every loving act, every helping hand is a treasure in the eyes of God. And the goodness we share has effects that ripple out through the entire universe. Fill your days with good words then. Make your life a gift of love. Help God make a better world by being the best you.
Joseph J. Mazzella