One by one, my students were telling me about the pretend flowers they grew in music class, and what they planned to do with them.
“I grew a red rose and I’m going to keep it in my room so I can look at it.”
“I grew a yellow flower and I’m going to give it to my Mom.”
“I grew a rainbow tulip and I’m going to give it to her.’ (pointing across the class at a fellow student….)
“I grew a poop flower…”
His teacher called his name from her nearby desk. He was caught. The boy struggled to rise from his carpet square to meet his fate, and when he finally made his way to her, they were in conversation for some time. She was insisting that he apologize to me for his inappropriate word and He. Did. Not. Want. To.
I get it. Facing the wrong things we do is terrible, and apologizing for them can be even worse. We all take excruciatingly slow steps towards accountability at times, frozen and defensive and unwilling to face the music.
The boy knew he could not join us for our end-of-class freeze dancing unless he apologized, so he made his way toward me, trembling. I wanted to reach out and hug him like the Dad in the Prodigal Son story, but the tiny steps he agonizingly took in my direction were important ones for him, and his teacher was watching. Finally, he made it.
“Mrs. Campbell, I’m sorry that I said poop flower in your class.”
He could barely spit it out, and he had tears in his eyes.
“This is scary,” he said. And I told him, “I know, but it’s all over. Thank you for saying sorry. Now it’s time for dancing.”
He smiled and wiped away a tear, ready to dance.
Reconciliation is so hard and so scary, but when it’s done, it’s done. When we’re really painfully honest with ourselves and confess our messy stuff to each other or to God, and ask forgiveness, I hope and believe we get it. The steps we take to get there are a painful and crucial part of the process, but we never walk alone, and the promise of dancing free at the end can help us get where we need to be.