I received a four-inch potted plant in full bloom at the end of that particular school year. It was so long ago that the exact year escapes me, but the photograph captures the very same plant as it appeared in early spring of this year. The boy who gave it to me also gave me a great big hug and the words, “Thank you for teaching me.” I brought it home and planted it in my garden and said that every spring when it bloomed I would remember the young man.
I have moved four different times since receiving this plant and I have dug it up each time, fretting that perhaps the next move would be its demise. Instead, it got stronger and thicker and more brilliant every year. Some summers I would be in awe of its absolute glory and I would think of and remember and pray for the boy who gave it to me on the last day of school one year many years ago.
What becomes of a boy? He joined the army as a reservist and at the same time, completed a Bachelor of History degree. He completed a UN Tour in the Golan Heights, with a six month tour in Afghanistan out of Kandahar Airfield. He took a commission as an officer in Intelligence. At the age of twenty-three, he grew into his ‘authentic skin’ and in doing so, learned that life is about hard work and knocks and that there IS love in the world for EVERYONE!
One of the lowest saddest times of his life was losing his step dad this past year. He misses and will miss forever, the man he called his Dad.
Through it all, has been the ‘magic’. He has seen the Mall of the Emerites in Dubai. He has done a pilgramage to Jerusalem. He has gone swimming in the Mediterranian. He has walked through a Bronze Age city in Syria. He has been to Damascus and Aleppo. He has visited the Tate Modern and the British National Museum in London. He has seen Gustave Klimt’s The Kiss in Vienna and walked through the forum in Rome. He has thrown five cents into the Trevi Fountain. He has chased sheep on the Hill of Tara in Ireland. He has driven the same highway as I have this summer, Calgary to Montreal over and over again. He thinks, as I do, that one of the most beautiful places in the world is Waterton Lakes National Park.
As teachers begin their next school year…and as students congregate to read their class lists, it’s important to remember that these young boys and girls grow to be men and ladies. Education and learning is a very magical enterprise, the rituals of autumn! This thirty-two year old man has made me very proud and I will continue to remember him each spring when the lily blooms.