A Great Cloud of Witnesses

This morning, my friends and I huddle by the school entrance, making conversation with other parents and school administrators.  As we notice the line of cars pulling up to drop off children, I’m overcome with the desire to run up to the car doors, open them wide, and greet each child like he or she were a celebrity. 

London Paparazzi

I imagine each car to be a long black limousine. I even include fashion commentary like we’re on the Red Carpet for some premiere.

My friend and I laugh about making this our community job each morning.  We wonder what it might feel like to arrive at school and have folks open your car door, celebrate your arrival, and compliment your outfit.  What if we even brought paparazzi to our morning Red Carpet event?  What if we really did announce a child’s arrival?  You’ve arrived!  Welcome to school you beautiful, wonderful person!  You are very important to us! 

Walking home from the school, I feel like I’ve touched upon something eternal in that moment of opening a car door and celebrating a child’s arrival.  Something about that act seems to echo in eternity. 

All of us parents, surrounding those youngest members of our community–celebrating them like that, protecting their journey from car to school entrance–represents a spiritual reality for me:  I too am surrounded by that love and protection at all times.  I have cheerleaders in the heavens. 

Doesn’t scripture teach in Hebrews 12 that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” who cheer us on, helping us “run with perseverance the race marked out for us?”  We cannot see the saints and angels, but aren’t they surely there in some unseen realm about me? 

Later, I ride in my minivan across town.  As I unfasten my seat belt and turn to touch the door handle, I imagine them all there outside my van.  My Red Carpet event unfolds as I walk into the cold, bright day, surrounded by my cloud of witnesses.   

They cheer about me, celebrating and protecting.

(Photo, “Paparazzi at the ICA in London” by Justinc, courtesy of Creative Commons)


Completely Unnecessary

The principal of my daughters’ elementary school knows their names.  This elementary school has 495 students, and the principal learns their names by the end of the first week of school.

I know. I’ve seen her walk in the halls saying “hello” to groups of students by name. 

I also know that learning my daughters’ names is not in her job description.  Here’s an official job description for a school principal: 

Provides leadership for the professional staff of the school in the development, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive educational program, and to administer the program in accordance with school board policies and administrative rules and regulations. 

It doesn’t say that she’s supposed to know names.  And yet she knows them.

I thought about her today when I remembered how my new kindergartner felt when that principal saw her in the hall and announced her name–not for being bad or for being known for trouble–but for just arriving in the school.  

I belong here.  Even the principal knows my name. 

Completely unnecessary might this task seem to some;  it’s not in the job description. 

As I walked around campus today, I thought about what’s not written in our job descriptions that we might do for others.  Sure, it’s not part of the official policy, but what if we did that extraordinary and unnecessary thing that could forever change somebody else?

Maybe it’s as simple as learning all the names of our co-workers or neighbors.  

I don’t know how she does it.  I asked that principal how she memorizes every single child’s name.  She didn’t answer.  She was too busy announcing another name and shaking hands with a boy who passed by us.