Last week I reflected about our friend and his fourth-grade class, whose performance of The Secret Garden we had recently attended. A few days after writing the post, I found I was still pondering those students, modern classrooms, and the state of learning in this country. I found that I’m not alone in that regard; Tom’s class and their play even made the front page of this week’s Marana News!
While every student participated in the event in some fashion, not all of the students were in the play. The performance began with two songs, and one of those songs stuck with me. Tom had told us the story of the young singer, who had very little self-confidence, but a beautiful voice. Tom gently and slowly encouraged this child to take the risk of performing. The child agreed, but wore a stylish hat and basically hid behind its brim and the microphone. But the clear, pure voice could not be hidden, and it was a lovely performance.
The lyrics to the song also struck me. I’m not sure why the song was chosen, but it spoke to me, in tandem with the book I’m currently editing. The song is “All of Me” by John Legend and the lines that I found myself repeating included:
…all of me loves all of you
Loves your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
The reason these lines spoke to me is related to that all-embracing, wondrous love. We are used to hearing it in love songs like this, where one person professes that type of all-encompassing love for one other person—but I’ve been reading about the spiritual call, and challenge, to fully love every person in the world and every speck of creation. I found myself thinking of “all of you” as our Mother Earth, with her many curves and edges, and her “perfect imperfections”…and how we must each learn to love our God-given life here on this planet, along with everything and everyone who abides here.
This also means that we need to give all of ourselves in loving, just as Tom gives his all to those students in his class. No matter how much they act out, struggle, fail, and fall, Tom provides loving discipline, teaches them the consequences of their actions, and helps them to pick themselves up and try again. In this “imperfect” classroom, children are learning so many critical life skills in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic. Tom left teaching for a while, and had success in another field, but found that he missed making a difference in children’s lives. For him, living the faith-filled life involves loving his little portion of that “all of you” planet upon which we reside.
Another important line in the song for me is “even when I lose I’m winning.” So often in our culture today, we are taught that there are no win/win situations. It’s all about us vs. them, up vs. down, success vs. failure. But that is not what we were taught by God. We were instructed, in the very beginning, to care for the Earth and maintain it (Genesis 2:15). To do this, we must work together, for the greater good of all. This means that we must often choose to lose so that all may win. Here in America, many of us must choose to make do with less so that there is enough for everyone. We must recognize, as Tom did, that making money is not the endgame. His loss is his students’ gain—and when they gain and grow, he wins, too.
I believe that God is speaking, to me and to all of us, through this song. Where in your life is God singing “give your all to me; I’ll give my all to you”?