I stood in front of Professor Jamal’s class, with tears streaming down both of my cheeks telling these Moroccan kids about what’s really important in life. I didn’t plan for this, didn’t expect it, and really was taken back by the entire picture that was being painted on the easel.
My trip to Morocco had effectively been directed for me. (My entire journey here on Earth seems to have been directed for me). My next post will talk about the debt owed to Katie and Victoria for setting this whole thing up.
Neither Katie nor Victoria were actually classmates of Cullen. And Jamal had not been his professor. But the whole thing just seemed to fit together.
My son Cullen had been here three years ago. Walked these very steps. Entered under this very arch. Seen this patio. Eaten at this very table. But he didn’t sit in this classroom, or have this teacher. Or even meet him.
And yet he was here in tears also. So was most of the class.
OK, so here’s the deal. Katie had shared that Cullen most enjoyed his time here speaking with others. Other languages. Other cultures. Other worlds.
He was most happy when he was talking with these other people. And not just talking to them, but talking to them in their own language. To see their eyes light up that he could speak their own language. Clearly I wouldn’t be able to do that, but since I was here seeing the world through my son’s eyes, it seemed most natural that I would speak to a group of Moroccan students.
Yes, American students were also at ALIF (the American Language Institute in Fes), but Katie had arranged for me to do what Cullen would have most wanted – to mingle with Moroccans and make my world bigger and better. Of course this was the thing I had preached since I started making children. It’s not about you, it’s all about those you impact – how can you make a difference in the world? Otherwise, what’s the point? And most of us won’t cure cancer, so it’s the little things we do as we walk through our everyday. It’s the ripple from the pebble tossed into the pond that, however slightly, changes the world just a bit.
I embraced Professor Jamal like he was an old friend. A brother. Because he was (is). And I walked into his classroom and told my story. Cullen’s story. God’s story.
Because regardless of whether or not you know it yet, He has in fact written this entire script.
And so one girl was in tears because she felt so bad that she didn’t appreciate her father for how much he had sacrificed for her to be there “at university.” Another because of something “she couldn’t share,” another because he did appreciate his father and the love he had shown him. And showered him with. And embarrassed him with. He would never again be embarrassed by the extravagance of his father’s love.
I could have stopped right there… I could have gone home, and the entire trip been the success of a lifetime. Really? He now would never again be embarrassed by the love of his father?
I spoke to these kid for almost two hours, and it felt like 10 minutes. We left for a “break” between classes and in the courtyard I was told where to sit. Somehow they knew where Cullen had sat. Three years later. You think my son had an impact on people?
When class resumed, Jamal asked me to stay out in the courtyard, because he wanted me to talk to someone, and he told me that he didn’t even know why. A few minutes later, a girl joined me at the table, She leaned back, with her arms folded, perhaps a bit indignantly.
“Just who the hell was I, anyway?” She had no idea why Jamal had wanted me to talk to her either. It quickly became apparent. There was no reason for either of us to be coy or superficial. We shared our stories with each other and cried together. The girl who Jamal had identified as a fantastic kid … with a few issues … had opened up. Perhaps for the first time in a while. Perhaps for the first time in her life. And I was humbled and honored to be a part of it.
The details she shared are held in confidence, although her father will likely never read this, and would never know how his words and actions have had an impact on the rest of her life.. And she’ll likely never read this. But that’s the point of lovingly sharing time with others. We can do so without concern. It’s mainly because we sat with someone who cared enough to listen, and promise to keep a secret.
I haven’t done this enough in my life. Hopefully I will going forward. Let’s sit together and share stories, and compassion, and love.