Sometimes after my Masters swimming coach has worked us especially hard, I take myself out to one of the two Chinese restaurants in our little town and let someone else make my lunch.
This last time, my dessert fortune cookie said, "You will soon witness a miracle." I've never before had such a lovely message from a fortune cookie. Made me wish they all said that, so everyone who eats Chinese would feel the sense of delicious anticipation that I felt.
All week, I waited for my miracle. Was it the spectacular sunset that very same evening? It certainly seemed otherworldly in its fiery splendor. Was it the simple sound of My Beloved's car pulling into the carport after a long business trip? Maybe it was watching the progress on my neighbor's water heater - he has a serious illness and a friend of his gave three days of struggling to help him put in a new one. As lovely as those things were, nothing seemed quite to rise to the level of "miracle," but I was out there looking.
Wednesday rolled around, as it does every week; in my little world, that means tutoring in the early morning. I struggle out of bed and, rather than don my bathrobe and fuzzy flipflops, I actually hit the shower and get dressed as if I was still going to my job. Feed the dog and walk her quickly around the block, hoping for a little extra time to stop for a to-go cup of coffee before heading over to the school.
This week, I had little presents for my students to mark their progress and the holidays. A funny little bookmark for Maria - I'm a reading tutor, after all. A cute little stuffed hamster with a Santa hat for Yadira - she loves animals. And a small foam ball that is printed like a globe for Jay - boys are hard to buy for if you are looking for something non-violent. I gave them each the choice of opening the present right away or saving it for Christmas; unanimously, they chose immediacy. Bright wrappings gave way to smiles - a small triumph for me since I do not have children of my own and have to guess what second graders might like.
Jay has not been as open a child as either Maria or Yadira who, when they aren't reading, are chattering away about their lives and their families. Jay is polite and sweet and earnest, but there is a reserve about him that I haven't melted in nearly five months. After Jay's turn at reading, I offered him his present. When he opened his globe ball, he smiled his shy smile and said, wonderingly, "It's the world!" meeting my eyes and twinkling, turning the colorful globe this way and that, and bouncing it experimentally on the floor. He gave me his brief, stiff little hug and went back to his desk still examining his present.
Maria was next and halfway through her lesson, Jay came running back, so excited that he interrupted us to say, "Ms Pam! Ms Pam! I found Sweden!" pointing proudly to the bright yellow country on the blue background.
And there was my miracle, shining out of his dark eyes - his sharing of that discovery with me, barriers broken down for that instant, getting to witness that spark of the pleasure of discovery in his young face.
I'm saving that little slip of fortune cookie paper carefully, taping it into the spiral bound notebook where I keep important quotes and ideas. Who knows what other miracles I may witness in the future?