Yesterday I went to Clark Springs Elementary School to spend some time with my lunch buddy, Jaylen. He brought three little paperback books with him he was supposed to read and so I spent most of the time listening, offering corrections and suggestions from time to time, like, “Why don’t you take a breath when you get to the end of a sentence, Jaylen?” (He’s a very fast reader. In fact, last time I went I took him the book he’s reading in the picture above, from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He loved it, and read 43 pages while I was there).
But on the way back to his classroom Jaylen asked one of the other kids how many books he’d read during the hour.
“One,” the kid said.
“I read two,” Jaylen said, proudly.
“Well, we spent most of the time talking,” the kid said. And then he said this:
“He’s about the only person who listens to me.”
And I looked at his lunch buddy who was walking along beside him, a nice-looking older gentleman wearing a blue windbreaker. He didn’t seem all that remarkable. You probably wouldn’t single him out in a crowd. But to this kid he was special. He was “The One Who Listens.”
Can you imagine how much difference it would make in a kid’s life to have even one person who listens to him? And can you imagine that it’s not that hard to give up an hour or so a few times a month to sit there, wide-eyed, while a kid shares his life with you? If you’re interested you could probably contact your local elementary school or, if you’re in Richmond, volunteer with the Micah Initiative or one of the other tutoring programs. It’s not that hard to sit and listen to a kid for an hour. But for the kid it may be the only time he has the full attention of an adult who will listen, and nod, and say, “Wow!” And if you’ve ever been listened to—really listened to—you know:
It’s heaven on earth.