Let's hear it for the "average" child who receives no special award on honors day: the one who stares out the window in geometry class and dreams of faraway places, having mastered the art of reverie; the one who feels abandoned by her peer group but stands up for her own convictions; the one who spends the night listening to a friend in need rather than studying for a history exam; the one who manages equipment for a football team but doesn't play football or receive recognition from the crowd; the one who studies hard and shows up for all the extra sessions but makes a C on the exam, all the while doing his best; the one who opts out of biology lab because he doesn't want to dissect frogs, knowing they are too beautiful to be murdered for dissection; the one who stays seated during the awards ceremony and somehow musters the strength of soul to clap for all the "special" people even as she feels unnoticed. Yes, let's hear it!
Aren’t these the kinds of students who partake of spiritual depth, of closeness with God, all the while hidden to the lovers of merit-badges. Aren’t the qualities of heart and mind that they exemplify, in quiet and unnoticed ways, the very qualities that wise people rightly admire:
Attention - Beauty (sensitivity to) - Being Present - Compassion - Connections - Devotion - Enthusiasm - Faith - Forgiveness - Grace - Gratitude - Hope - Hospitality - Imagination - Joy - Justice - Kindness - Listening - Love - Meaning - Nurturing - Openness - Peace - Play - Questing - Reverence - Shadow - Silence - Teachers - Transformation - Unity - Vision - Wonder - X (sense of Mystery) - Yearning - You - Zest for Life
And while we’re at it, let’s hear it for their parents, too, who love them so much, think they are eminently "honorable" in the ways that really count, some of them sitting in the stands on honors day, also clapping. Let’s hear it for father who says: "It doesn’t matter to me one bit if you never played football, you are a sensitive and wonderful soul and that’s what matters to me." And to the mother who says: "Being yourself, in your generous way, is so much more of an achievement than making an A on a history exam. You are an angel."
And let’s hear it for parents, mentors, preachers, coaches, teachers, and priests who have the wisdom to see past the glitz and glory to the soul of things: to the place where, in the words of Frederic Buechner, gladness of the heart meets the hungers of the world. Let’s hear it for those who emphasize depth, not "achievement."
And, yes, let’s hear it for the Soul of the universe and who quietly whispers in each heart: "No need to receive applause. No need to receive trophies. Live simply and lovingly, enjoying life and being kind. Reach out to strangers. Give without expecting anything in return. Learn to live with less so that others can simply live. Then, by any measure that counts, you will be a 'success.' You will be a channel of my love for the world. Blessed are the Average, their theirs is the kingdom of God."
Note: The title for this blog was inspired by a New York Times Opinion Piece "Let’s Hear it for the Average Child” by Margaret Renkl and by "The Kid" by the folk group "Cry Cry Cry."