It was a "stretch" for me to pick this word. I don't see myself as a "REACHER". And now looking at that word - with the er - it reminds me of the word "TEACHER", and perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I've always been a reacher, at least as soon as I became a teacher.
This past Sunday at church a boy, about 10 years old, sat next to me. He had intended to sit in the pew in front of us as he usually does, but it was filled. He is one that sometimes comes to church with another family, and he has energy to spare, and not many boundaries in his life. When he comes to church, he sits in the pew with two other boys right in front of us. Having him sit in front of me is always a challenge, to me - he's fine with it. I want to tell him to sit still, be quiet, stop poking others, etc. But I resist. I'm always quiet and try to focus on the message instead, despite the flurry of activity in my peripheral, and not so peripheral, vision.
But this afternoon, as he came in, he unexpectedly plunked down beside me, disappointed that he wasn't sitting in the pew ahead of me that was already filled with three boys his age. He stretched a few times, and wiggled a bit, but for the most part was able to sit pretty still.
At the end of the service, as he was getting up, I asked him if sometimes he had trouble in school sitting still. He said he did. I told him some "grounding" techniques and asked if he'd heard of doing those before. He had. I suggested that he try them at church and told him how I appreciated how still he had been beside me and that sometimes when he is laughing and moving around during church, it is hard for me to pay attention. He appeared to be listening. I smiled and thanked him again and he smiled back. Then I asked him if he had any trouble with eating chocolate. His grin got wide, "No. No, I don't have ANY problems with chocolate!" Ah, he WAS listening.
I repeated my thanks for sitting so still during the service, reached into my bag and handed him the chocolate mini M & M's I had stashed in my bag for months - I guess for just this occasion! And I told him he was welcome to sit with us any time.
He probably never will. And it may even take a few years for him to reach into the recesses of his memories and pull out this event again. But maybe he will someday, and he will understand that someone reached out to him and tried to help. Sometimes your reach isn't felt immediately. Sometimes it is cumulative reaches. Sometimes it is a delayed realization that you were reached for.
Sometimes I'm not even sure when I've reached or touched. And I don't need to.
I've found since I had the word REACH, when in doubt about whether or not I should REACH OUT, I've begun to default to REACH. And it feels good. It goes well with the word BOLD from the year before, and both are beginning to mold my life into more active, fun and unexpectedly rewarding days.
When you try
to touch the sky,
sometimes you do,
but even if you don't,
you are happy that you
slowed down and stretched
up high and smiled
with the sun or rain
on your face.
by Donna JT Smith, 2017