It is a brilliant March day. I sit down to rest my feet and wait for the coffee to drip. I just came in after a skiing trip. The sun sparkled on the snow, and my skis made a nice crunching noise on the snow. Sparrows twittered in the shrubbery, and water was dripping cheerfully from the eaves. While skiing without any cares, my memories traveled back to some old events and experiences.
I remembered a Friday, the last school day before the winter break, many years ago. I was standing in lunch line next to the eighth-graders. The line slowly inched toward the catering desk. The boys kept moving restlessly on their rangy legs, and the girls were whispering secrets to each other. There was an atmosphere of expectation for the break. Suddenly I felt something touch my foot.
– You have such a terribly small foot. Size 35, is it? I already have size 43 shoes.
Next to my foot I saw the wet leg of overlong jeans and a worn winter trainer with its velcro strap hanging open. When I looked up, I saw cheerful blue eyes between pimply cheeks and rumpled bangs. The boy I had had to scold during the previous lesson had found a tender tone to his gruff voice.
The boys soon got their lunch. There were only a few hours to go before the one-week break! Sunlight made bright patches on the floor.
I started my break, too. I joined my sister’s family for a vacation at a cabin. Saturday went by quickly. There was a track on the lake that we used for a small skiing race, and the kids loved playing in the snow. Everybody was hungry, and after dinner and sauna we were all tired. We began to prepare the beds. I was to sleep in a wooden pull-out bed.
I tried to lift off the wooden top, but my hands slipped, and the heavy top fell right across my toes. The pain brought tears into my eyes. My toes were soon so swollen there was almost not enough space for them all. We put the wooden top back, and I made my bed safely on it. I lied down to sleep with cold packs across my toes and pillows under my feet. I saw many pairs of compassionate eyes around me, and small hands patted me for consolation.
– Oh, that sure hurts! But you will soon feel better.
One of the children cried and said she could not even look.
I guess I slept some that night. When I opened my eyes in the morning, the children were around me asking how I was feeling. I had a lot of loving care and consolation. And I myself consoled one sad child.
I could not ski anymore, so I just sat by the window looking at the children happily romping in the snow. One of my nephews had a new pair of soft padded winter boots. I was able to put them on a few days later, and before the winter break was over, I managed to walk outdoors with my toes bandaged and protected by woolen socks.
I felt truly grateful for those boots that I could borrow. When I was back at school after the break, I had to walk upstairs slowly and carefully. I saw curious looks and heard some whispers. I told my students what had happened.
The boy who had commented on the size of my feet looked serious and concerned. The students were clearly observing my ability to walk. Some of them asked if the accident had hurt very badly, and others wondered if I had already grown new toe nails.
When spring came, I finally got rid of the padded winter boots. Slowly but surely my toes healed and grew new nails.
The boy who had compared our shoes left school. I have not seen him or heard about him since, but I hope he has not lost his compassionate attitude. It was easy to sense that attitude, although he was in the middle of the pain and turmoil of growing up.
Small children are sensitive to the pain of other people, especially their dear ones. They also show that by being loving and caring. It is easy to think that teens do not care for other people, or even notice them properly. But that is not always so. We as adults may just fail to recognize their way of showing their love and caring. A small gesture, a smile, a touch, an unexpectedly gentle question – all that may stand for compassion, remorse and even apology.
All people long for love and care, and it is also important to be able to show love and care to someone else. It is heart-warming when a stormy, rebellious teen takes off his or her mask to reveal the smile behind it. And squarely meets your eye.
Text: Aili Pasanen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original finnish blog post here.
HiIjattain päättyneet Reisjärven opistoseurat olivat kesän viimeiset suuret seurat. Kristillisyyden historiaan jää erikoinen kesä. Kaikki kesän suuret seuratapahtumat järjestettiin radion ja netin välityksellä. Kokoontuminen yhteen suurella joukolla ei ollut mahdollista koronaviruksen vuoksi.