Tuesday, March 16, 2004

THE EMPTY EGG. (This came in from my hard boiled investigator.)

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12
he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher,
Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his
seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly
and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain.
Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a
consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris
said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't
fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning
problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of
the other students."

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke.
"Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It
would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this
school. We know he really likes it here."

Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside
the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to
sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal
illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other
youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he
would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am
complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family,
she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From
that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank
stares.

Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.
"I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to
hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red.

She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take
your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of
Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the
idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a
large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this
home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new
life. Do you understand?" "Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded
enthusiastically-all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes
never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises.

Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and
resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should
call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord
and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she
still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a
vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning
Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as
they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's
desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the
eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is
certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants peek through the
ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row
waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.
Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows
into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled
proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss,
too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom,
"My daddy helped me," he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty.
Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not
understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone
his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly
set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up.
"Miss Miller,aren't you going to talk about my egg?"

Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty." He looked into
her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too."

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you
know why the tomb was empty?" "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was
killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up."

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school
yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the
mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of
them empty.

Happy Resurrection Day.
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