Mercy Mondays: The Bump in the Tapestry

Today I am joining my internet friend Jenn Lebow, who has been having a rich conversation about mercy. This weeks prompt focused on why humbleness is thrown in there with justice and mercy in Micah 6:8.

There is always more than you think there is. There is always a different side. There is always an exploding knot of confused threads when only the slightest bump is showing on the front side of the tapestry.

I’ve been learning this lesson I think my whole life. I do not know as much as I think I know. I am not seeing all there is to look at. What looks like a shallow puddle is sometimes as deep as the sea.

I am glad I do not know the number of times I have written a kid off as lazy, only to discover he is hungry, she is taking care of her sick mother, he is hiding from the shame of not knowing, she is pregnant by her step father. I am sure the number would make me weep. I would rather not know.  You would think after six years I would have learned, but just last week I was reminded again. There is more to my students than what I can see.

I give second and third chances more freely now. I have decided that I would rather let a liar slide than punish a kid who was legitimately doing the best he could. I’m not sure if this is the right answer or not, it is simply the one I can live with in my classroom. It is the best I can do in this broken world.

I remember when I had all the answers. I remember when I was sure my classroom could conquer the world. Now, I often have to hold my tongue at dinner parties or fellowship events. Sometimes I have to simply walk away when the conversation moves to education. I am aware that it is my presence as a public school teacher that steers well-meaning seekers to this topic of conversation. I have discovered I cannot have pleasant dinner table conversations when you are talking about theoretical policy and I am talking about Theodore and Pam.

The more you learn about poverty and injustice, the more you learn you don’t know anything. The more faces you put to the problems of this world, the more you realize how heartbreakingly similar each case is, the better you understand how little you know, how unique each solution must be. The more you learn what you don’t know, the more you learn to listen.

When I humbled myself to hear the stories of my students, I was humbled by the stories they were willing to tell me. If you know you don’t know, what ears to listen can hear.

Walk humbly is not a command. It is a warning, a reminder. It nudges me toward the truth that this side of heaven there is so much I cannot know. It says to me, Abby, be gentle, talk less, look harder. There is so much you do not see.

There is always more than you think there is. There is always a different side. There is always an exploding knot of confused threads when only the slightest bump is showing on the front side of the tapestry.

Mercy Mondays - Jenn LeBow

If you want to read some other brilliant takes, here they are.

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8 thoughts on “Mercy Mondays: The Bump in the Tapestry

  1. I love this, Abby. What else is new? I love everything I find in this place. Three of my adult children teach blind students – not what you do, which sounds more like what we euphemistically call ‘continuing ed’ here in CA – and they’ve been learning these truths in much the same way you have. They do have opinions on policy, however – they just know opinions don’t mean a whole heckuva lot when you’re in the middle of a system that is coming undone. You put one foot in front of the other, try to do your best with each student entrusted to your care (and theirs vary widely – some are multiply handicapped (is that a legit word anymore) and some are extraordinarily gifted academically, they just can’t see – so their goals differ widely.) But all have stories, most carry heavy family burdens and they are reminded on a daily basis that EVERYBODY has layers, most of which we cannot see unless we look really carefully.

  2. The tapestry analogy is apt. So cool that a description of new Pope Francis is Humble. For me walking with Jesus is a good place to be encouraged to be humble. What am I in his presence?

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