One December Sunday my granddaughter, Nancy, invited me to Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Day on Tuesday. The Catholic school Nancy, 9, and her older sister Mary, 12, attend uses this unique event to foster reading. This invitation began a little adventure in discovering how God plans our good works in advance.
As a bookworm, I loved the idea, so I called the school. No openings for Nancy’s fourth-grade class, but there was an opening for Mary’s seventh-grade class.
I accepted but wondered how Nancy would feel since she was the one who had invited me. Several phone calls later a generous school staff member had arranged my visit to both classes!
On DEAR Day guests, mostly parents and grandparents, read stories they have selected to the children. Except for recess and lunch, this takes up the entire schedule. What’s more, the students put aside their uniforms, with the younger ones wearing their pajamas and the older ones their jogging togs. They bring pillows and sleeping bags and lounge on the floor and delight in bedtime stories.
The Books Choose Me
Instead of choosing the books to read, I let the books choose me. For Nancy’s class, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Christmas in the Big Woods” jumped out at me from an anthology that had been on my bookshelf for decades, ready for this day. For Mary’s seventh-grade class, I discovered a beautifully illustrated book about the Spanish Saint Anton. Someone left it at our house a couple of years ago, planted it in a basket of books in the playroom for me to find when I needed it.
When Nancy introduced me to the fourth-grade class, they greeted me as a celebrity. Soon all eyes and ears were attuned to me as those wondering faces shone up at me from the relaxed children. The Little House on the Prairie story kept their attention. I knew Nancy liked the television show, and discovered that many of her friends also watched it. They commented how they enjoyed the Christmas story of a TV family they already knew.
The Seventh Grade Discovers Saint Anton
Then I was escorted to the seventh grade where a boisterous group was settling down. As I began to read the story of Saint Anton, all became quiet. I showed the illustrations to the class to nurture their belief in the miracles of this Spanish saint. Soon they caught on that this was our dear St. Anthony. Their animated comments on the events in the story compelled me to leave the book with Mary so they could read it again.
As I walked to my car, utter delight erupted in my soul. This upsurge of joy surprised me a little as I had focused so intently on the children and my task. The pleasure of participating in DEAR Day was surely enough reward. But the rapture in those little faces and the loving acceptance of everyone I encountered at the school brought me such joy that I could not keep it from bubbling up and overflowing. And overflow it did—to everyone I met that day beginning with a school mother (a stranger to me) who was coming across the parking lot. “Have a great time!” I exuded.
I was fully alive – doing exactly what God had created me to do this day. He created me with a love for reading and put me in a family of writers.
Although the concept of DEAR Day was new to me, the pleasure of reading to children was not. In my first job as a library page, I was assigned to Saturday morning Story Hour, and I had lots of practice reading to my younger sister. I loved reading to my children and later my grandchildren.
God planned this DEAR Day for me. He gave me my unique children and grandchildren, put them in this school at this time in my life when I was available to come across town and read. He inspired my little granddaughter to invite me, and he cleared my schedule. Everything clicked! I was living Ephesians 2:10,
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
What special event in your life made you feel fully alive?
(© 2014 Nancy H C Ward)
(© 2014 Nancy H C Ward)