Sunshine of GoldOn the first day of winter, I remember seeing a small-boned child with a mop of brown-hair. He sat on a broken concrete stoop, cradling head in hands and staring out at a pack of bright-jacketed children dashing in dragon lines up the slide and back down. Tumbling balls of primary colors. This boy made no move to join them. He remained still, alone, in thought.

“Who is that?”

“Adam,” the yard teacher told me as she rang the hand bell. “New student?” I asked. “No. He came here last Spring.” He and his classmates filed in through the big doors. I became a bit curious.

I walked through the entire building before I returned to his classroom.  I entered to find Adam sitting at a table with four other children. Low sunshine spilled across the room as all of them wrote and drew. All except one, that is.

I made my way to his table:

“Hello.” He did not answer. “Are you Adam?” He looked down. “What did the teacher ask you to do?” No reply.  A second child, the one sitting next to him, replied: “She told us write a sentence that tells where we came from. We have to draw a picture too.”

“Can you do that?” He said nothing. Instead, he sat motionless, a big piece of paper spread out before him. “Go ahead. I’ll wait.”

Perhaps a full minute passed before he snagged a crayon and scribbled a string of letters. Then, he slammed down his crayon. “Done already? May I read what you wrote?”

Then he spoke his first words to me: “My letters look ugly.”

Adam had written a single sentence, clear enough for me to read. About coming from a house with one daddy and no mommy and about how he got sad sometimes. Intriguing information, but back to the original point – The handwriting was flawless. I could read every letter. I told him so.

“Your printing is perfect. You make beautiful letters.”

He sat without speaking. I said, “Can I ask you something? Is there anything else you know you can’t do?” The boy looked at me and began to spout a long list- so long that I asked him to stop. “Wait! . . .Let me show you a little trick. What if I knew how to go inside your brain pull out all of the “I can’t’s? Would you let me try?”

Adam returned to silence. I saw him glancing, but he wouldn’t talk. So, I commenced to wiggle my  fingers and tap his forehead. He giggled, and I said “Hold on a second. . . Got it!” and then, said I, “It’s out! The biggest ‘can’t’ I ever caught. How do you feel? I’ll put it in my coat pocket. OK?”

He nodded. We smiled. I left.

When I passed him in the lunchroom two hours later, he gestured to me: “Can I have the “can’t” back.” I hesitated, but I let him reach into my inside coat pocket. “I’m gonna  throw it away.” I watched as he went to the big gray bin to slam the invisible yuck home.


So, why tell my little tale – this particular moment plucked from a pile of tin? To me, the moment is gold. It provides clues about how to step from under old weight that I never wanted anyway. It offers just enough of a shine to bring a thank you to my lips and a chin-up toward what might come next. For today, I believe that should suffice.


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9 Responses to Gold

  1. Greg January 20, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    “He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.” He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”… maybe not in hijab & burka, but I can appreciate his advice – especially as I raise my own girls.

  2. Kate January 20, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    Tap ME, tap ME, tap MEEEEEEEE!!!! If you look outside your door, you’ll see a line of us grownups waiting for your magic fingers! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat story! Thank you.

  3. Rob January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Really cool, Greg

  4. Chuck January 20, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    What a treat for that kid. You’re a miracle worker.

  5. Greg January 20, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    Thank you Greg. See you in a few weeks!

  6. Sage January 20, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    What a beautiful golden moment. It brings sweet tears of grief and appreciation as I sit looking out at our freshly snow-dusted pinon-juniper hillside. Thank you for thinking of me and sharing this. May your gifts always shine so,

  7. Jim January 20, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    That story in so many ways came at the perfect moment.

  8. Peggy January 20, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    This is beautiful….and something we all need to do from time to time! You are making such a huge impact on your kids, I am so proud to call you cousin and friend! It starts with the children, so they can carry it forward and maybe break some chains that are holding so many back! Each little chink that we can chip away from their ‘can’ts’ can make such a huge difference down the road….and they can then lead the lives they were meant to! Emoji

  9. Geni January 20, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Thanks for this, I too will have to tap my head. I absolutely love you!!!!!

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