© 2004 Steve Goodier
At first it sounded like a Thanksgiving story, but
the more I reflected on it, the more appropriate it
seemed for any time of the year. The way I heard it,
the story went like this:
Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher
gave her class a fun assignment -- to draw a picture
of something for which they were thankful.
Most of the class might be considered economically
disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the
holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of
the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the
subjects of most of her student's art. And they
But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas
was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher's
true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other
children played at recess, Douglas was likely to
stand close by her side. One could only guess at the
pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.
Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a
picture of something for which he was thankful, he
drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.
His abstract image captured the imagination of his
peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it
was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise
turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because
the police protect and care for people. Still others
guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And
so the discussion went -- until the teacher almost
forgot the young artist himself.
When the children had gone on to other assignments,
she paused at Douglas' desk, bent down, and asked him
whose hand it was. The little boy looked away and
murmured, "It's yours, teacher."
She recalled the times she had taken his hand and
walked with him here or there, as she had the other
students. How often had she said, "Take my hand,
Douglas, we'll go outside." Or, "Let me show you how
to hold your pencil." Or, "Let's do this together."
Douglas was most thankful for his teacher's hand.
Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.
The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says
something about teachers teaching and parents
parenting and friends showing friendship, and how
much it means to the Douglases of the world. They
might not always say thanks. But they'll remember
the hand that reaches out.
* * * * *
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