December 15, 2018
I don’t remember even noticing the man the first few times I took my patient to the school, and if I did I certainly didn’t think him noteworthy.
There were more visible people to notice. The school system has talented and beautiful staff who know just how to manage a classroom full of children with special needs. There are assistants I have come to know and respect for their unfailing persistence addressing temper tantrums, drool, and awkward announcements.
But the person who I have come to appreciate is a scruffy older man who wears jeans and a rumpled black shirt and is perpetually holding a plastic spray bottle of window cleaner. He wears bulky work shoes and has tools of his trade dangling off his belt or out of his pockets.
From my narrow viewpoint, he appears to walk around the school building as if it were the wheel inside a hamster’s cage, ever returning to clean the same windows he cleaned before. I see him periodically in the entrance at one end of the building, and in the gym at the other end, as if he has cleaned his way down the hall.
There are two mysterious things about him, and perhaps this is what makes him so interesting.
First, he seldom speaks more than a few words, at least in my hearing. His dark complexion makes me think that he might be of Mediterranean origin of some kind, but since I have scarce heard consecutive words out of his mouth, I can’t say anything concrete about his accent.
Second, is it coincidence that he cleans the front doors of the school at precisely the time that my handicapped patient arrives to school? Is it happenstance that he is in the right place at the right time to let us in out of the cold without having to wait for the office to buzz us through? I only take her once a week, but his presence at the entrance is too regular for random chance.
The silent man reminds me what the story of Christmas reflects: the most influential people are not always the loudest, the cutest, or the most talented. Have you noticed this theme in Christmas songs?
How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!
Silently, o’er Bethlehem, the heavens smile above, and all the shining stars beam down, like watching eyes of love.
Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright!
Or, from Scripture itself…He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.
The man with the spray bottle is not showy. But by force of faithful kindness, he has influenced me more than the talented team I observe in the classroom. I wonder if he knows the Lamb without blemish and spot who slid silently into the human world so many years ago–it seems he does– but I may never know.
But one thing I know: there is much to be said for the influence of faithful kindness, week after week.
Three items of business:
Thank you Rachel Peters Loewen for the train story and the handwritten note all the way from Manitoba!
I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it, but I have finished my first draft of the book I am writing, and am taking a break this month. I will revisit it in January to make revisions. So far in December, I’ve canned tomato juice, gotten four teeth filled, gotten my eyes checked, and made Christmas cookies. It’s been a nice change of pace!
I feel indebted to explain my upcoming sponsored post to you.
The other month, I got an email from a company I had never heard of, asking if I would write about their card lines if they would sponsor my blog post. I get periodic strange emails, but this one was striking in that the person crafting the email actually knew how to spell. Her email was well-written, and for good measure her signature explained the difference between stationary and stationery.
However, I replied that I would not review their cards since I had no experience with them. I was congratulating myself for politely declining the sponsorship when I received another email from their Christmas card department, offering me free samples if I would consider reviewing the cards for them and writing about them.
Herein lay my mental turmoil. My blog costs $180/year to maintain, without factoring in the approximately 100 hours I spend on it. However, I don’t really want to use ads, for several reasons, and I wasn’t sure about writing a sponsored post.
I decided to order the samples. I was smitten by the color palette on the website. I was happy with the finished product as well, both the quality and personal touch, so I decided I could genuinely share about my experience.
After some thought, I decided against writing it in place of my Saturday post. I decided on “Monday Merchants” where I may occasionally share a sponsored post or do some writing to generate funds. I plan to only write about things that I find interesting and that I think you might find interesting.
I think you will find the company I agreed to feature interesting, even if you aren’t in the market at the exact moment. Just for fun to kick off Monday Merchants, I will be sending a limited number of our personal Christmas cards from that company to the first people to enter their address into the link (a private link of course) that will show up on that blog. I plan to post the blog promptly at 5pm on Monday. We’d love to get your Christmas card too at 410 Brady Street, Elkhart, IN 46516. I wish I could send a Christmas card to every reader…maybe in a later year if I build up a little balance!