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Detention: It's all just part of the process
bressler color
John Bressler

There is a notice at the entrance of the school where Julie taught for almost 20 years. I am still impressed by the words, "This is your place, a child's place. Here, you are free to touch and to try, to choose and to do. Come into this place, this special place. Everything was planned just for you!"

Whether one is an adult or a child, I believe anyone would be banging on the door, peeking in a window or just trying to find a way into such a place. This place is planned just for me? No way! How do you know? Do you really care for me this much? Now, maybe, maybe, I won't like it at first, but I'm going to try it just the same because you put so much effort into making this special place something wonderful.

If my memory serves me correctly, my folks drove up to my soon-to-be first grade school, slowed the car down — 25 mph was the law back then — tossed me out and quickly drove away. They did circle the block and threw my lunch bucket at me. Fortunately, I was wearing a name tag with some instructions. The teacher assigned to me read the note and said, "So, you are Johnny. We have heard about you. Go to the principal's office and I will see you after detention."

"What's detention?" I asked.

"It's a special room for special kids," was the reply.

Hot dog! My first day of school and I am special. I never could figure out why detention was such a great honor. All I did was study most of the day and was never allowed to have anything pointy or sharp. My parents thought it was great because they didn't have to pick me up until after supper. I digress.

I know that the special place where Julie and her fellow teachers taught was a second home for every child who was lucky enough to be there. Those kids and their teachers loved one another, played together and began the process of learning, sharing, caring and growing. After all, it has been said and is very true that everything we need to know begins in the first grade.

Our Lord Jesus said for everyone to come to Him: those who work so hard and are so overburdened, for He will give them peace. He also said that in Heaven there are many homes and that means there is a home for each of us. I believe with all my heart that Jesus truly and completely understands how hard it is to let go of life and trust in the unknown. Of course, we read the promises and we hope we are courageous, but we are still afraid. After all, we are like children when it comes to shuffling off this mortal coil, as Shakespeare put it.

The fact is: just like we must all go to school to understand how to live, we must all die to understand what God has planned for us. Allow me this metaphor: I think of Jesus as the Headmaster and all the saints who have gone before us as our teachers. Some of us may have to spend a little time in detention, but that's OK, as that is a part of the learning process.

At Heaven's gate — just at the entrance — is a sign for all to read: This is your place, a child's place. Here, you are free to touch and to try, to choose and to do. Come into this safe place, this special place. Everything here is planned just for you.

This place is called Heaven.

Thanks, God!

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