This is how the world should be

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A beautiful thing happened in my classroom.

Back in May, a new child joined my class. He hadn’t been in school since September due to a lack of places.

At first, it felt a tiny bit inconvenient. It would mean thirty-one children in a space more suited to twenty-four, one more book to mark in the never ending pile.

But I was the new child in the class three times in my school career and I know the feelings of awkwardness and exclusion that can create in a person. So we set about making him feel welcome, helped him to develop friendships and feel comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.

Fast forward to July, and parents’ evening, his Mum came in to see me, the last parent of the night.

He’s got a few gaps in his learning, I say, what with him being out of school for a while. But I think he’s just enjoyed having some company and being with the other children.

Oh Miss King, she says, we gave him lots of learning experiences. I went out to buy him a bike but he told me, Mum, I don’t want a bike, I just want friends. I said to him, son, we’re going to pray and ask God for a place at school. God always answers us, sometimes we have to wait but he always answers. So we prayed and the next day we got the phone call to say there was a place in your class. I was so thankful to God!

We carried on talking for a while, her explaining how glad she is that her son is in a faith school, with our shared values, despite our differences in belief; how her son has been so happy, how he likes it just as much as his previous school.

Thank you so much she says, holding out her arms and pulling me into a warm hug.

So I found myself, a Christian, in an embrace of compassion and gratitude and mutual understanding with this lady, a Muslim, who talks to God in the same way I do. It was a precious moment of recognition, of humanity, and sameness and difference. It was a gift, a moment of grace, when the world is as it should be.

And I wondered, what if there were more moments like this?

What if all the moments were like this?

And it made me think of paper lanterns, floating upward, each one a flare of hope released into the night sky.

Picture: Melanie Magdalena