Monday, March 4, 2013

Message from Lois Leader, High School Teacher

We all know high school is often a mirror of the adult world; sometimes very darkly. The significant people tend to be the star athletes or the top scholars or the most entertaining people. Cliques are common and kids can be marginalized in unkind ways.

The person who had the most impact on me in high school wasn’t a top scholar. She struggled with her classes and I got to know her at first as her tutor. She couldn’t be a star athlete because she had cerebral palsy and just walking from class to class was an accomplishment. And she couldn’t be an entertaining chatterer because the CP made it hard for her to talk. Her name was Carla Wilkerson.

She had a joy in God that was direct. I remember staying over at her house one night. We got up early and saw the sunrise. It was one of those brilliant desert sunrises and she said, “That’s what it will be like when I meet Jesus in person.” Her face glowed like the sunrise.

It may not be surprising to learn there were bullies “back in the day,” even at PC. One afternoon Carla and I were working together in the library when three of these fellows approached us. One of them told Carla, “Your boyfriend here has a present for you.” He gave her a dog biscuit and the crew sauntered out. At that moment I was prepared to leap the table and do whatever damage a person the size of an eleven year old could inflict on a football player. But Carla stopped me.

“Don’t,” she said, “They just don’t understand what it’s like.”

I’ve never forgotten the way she was able to step outside her hurt and see the situation from a godly, rather than a personal, perspective. She was the star of the PC campus to me.

In those days before Facebook we lost touch with each other. I learned recently that she passed away. I wish I’d been able to tell her that she’s been a lifelong influence on me. So I’m happy to be able to tell all of you. Phil 2:3.

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