Another of Fred Craddock’s stories:
In a certain village the school bell rang at 8:30 a.m. to call the children to class. The boys and girls left their homes and toys reluctantly, creeping like snails into the school, not late but not a second early. The bell rang again at 3:30 p.m., releasing the children to homes and toys, to which they rushed at the very moment of the tolling of the bell.
This is how it was every day, with every child except one. She came early to help the teacher prepare the room and materials for the day. She stayed late to help the teacher clean the board, dust erasers and put away materials. And during the day she sat close to the teacher, all eyes and ears for the lessons being taught.
One day, when noise and inattention were worse than usual, the teacher called the class to order. Pointing to the little girl in the front row, the teacher said, “Why can you not be as she is? She comes early to help, she stays late to help, and all day long she is attentive and courteous.”
“It isn’t fair to ask us to be as she is,” said one boy from the rear of the room.
“Because she has an advantage,” he replied.
“I don’t understand. What is her advantage?” asked the puzzled teacher.
“She is an orphan,” he almost whispered as he sat down.
Have you noticed how it is often the people who have nothing to lose, and therefore nothing to protect, who are the freest?
Salvation, enlightenment, liberation – call it what you will – comes not to those who, out of their abundance, seek to earn it; but to those who, through their own poverty, know they need it.
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