On Oct. 17, I sustained a concussion when a metal fence collapsed on me. It brought with it a guy who was about a foot taller than me. It was a freak accident, but one that landed me in the hospital. I don’t remember much of the first week of my recovery. I slept while family members and friends took care of my children. I missed two weeks of work, which was probably the hardest part.
I don’t work an ordinary job in an ordinary place. I have the honor of being a Catholic school teacher at St. Joan of Arc in Aberdeen. My work is my second home and everyone there is family to me. While I stayed home and rested, other teachers and teachers’ assistants arranged to cover my classes so that the students were still getting their weekly does of art. They even planned on staying with me when I returned. Some of my school friends even helped me with getting Collin to and from school. One day he came home and said, “Everyone misses you mom! Especially me.”
Some teachers had their classes make cards for me. Some were funny, like the drawings of me that Lizzie and Seeley made for me. Others were beautiful, like the sweet scribbles annotated by our thoughtful pre-K teacher or the Halloween-themed card created by my student Roman, who is a cancer survivor.
One 8th grader made a tie-dye card and signed it from her entire family, with who I'm blessed to share my school and church life. Every picture and every message made me want to be back at school. Over and over again, I received messages that teachers, students, and their families were praying for me. How blessed I am to teach in a place where prayer is always welcome.
When I returned to school, I felt like an Olympian returning home for a victory parade. I was met with a receiving line of hugs, the first of whom was from my principal, one of the most caring and understanding people I've ever met. Even the big kids were glad to see me. One first grader wouldn’t let me go.
“I’ve missed you for years and years!” she shouted.
“Shh!” another girl said, “Her ears are very sensitive.” (As it turned out, our kind new librarian had talked to all the classes about my symptoms.) Even though I have a headache most of the time, I’m seldom bothered by the noises children make. In fact, the Kindergarten class sang a beautiful song for me. “It’s melt your heart,” a little girl said. It did.
“How are you feeling?” an upper school teacher asked.
“I’m getting there,” I said. (It’s my go-to response. I hate to complain, so I think it’s a nice way of saying “I’m not at my best, but I'm trying.”)
“I know you’re probably getting tired of us asking, but we do it because we love you!” she said.
I was definitely feeling the love, but I was feeling something else, too: mercy. All of these kind deeds were acts of Mercy, which is especially important as the Year of Mercy draws to a close. There will always be time to pray for the sick; to sing to them; to send cards, letters, and artwork; to help ease their transitions back to school; back to work; and to God’s kingdom.
November 02, 2016 05:17
By Robyn Barberry
With our Church's new year's dedication to "Mercy: Heart of the Gospel," the faithful are called to examine the gift of compassion God, our Father and Creator, has bestowed upon us and ask ourselves how we can treat others with the same level of dignity, regardless of their situation.
The first thing I think of when I think of mercy is my "mom," who has been a nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore for 30 years. She understands the meaning behind the name of her beloved workplace and demonstrates the act of mercy toward her patients there, to strangers, and (perhaps most challenging,) in her relationships with coworkers, classmates, friends and family members.
It's the Thanksgiving dinner she went out and bought for a family from the other side of the country stranded in Baltimore for a loved one's surgery. It's keeping calm and administering the appropriate medications while a patient curses at her and refuses to cooperate. It's helping the middle school version of me with a project after I threatened to run away.
My mom always inspires me to do more -- to be more, and the Church's Year of Mercy challenges me to do more, to be more -- now.
So, for the month of December, I will strive to complete one Spiritual Work of Mercy and one Corporal Work of Mercy during each week. Chances are, I won't accomplish all of them in such a short span of time, but some acts are worth repeating.
I will keep you posted as I make progress to be more merciful.
November 30, 2015 08:31
By Robyn Barberry