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Parkside Pen Pals

July 28, 2014

“I hope they’re not here yet, I’m nervous.” My Parkside girls squirmed in their seats as we pulled into the driveway. “What if they don’t like us? What if they don’t talk to us?” In the next minute we circled up eighteen kids on fresh green grass to meet each other. Parkside Girls Club meet your Home School University pen pals. There was an extended thick silence until nine of them climbed aboard the trampoline and a few others went over to play badminton. With bouncing and birdies they dissolved into a group of kids who acted like they’d known each other the whole school year.

Last fall, I needed a break from the intense writing curriculum and decided to give my class a chance to write letters, with pens, paper and pencils. No keyboards, no texting. The students in my class wrote to the girls in our Parkside group. Suburban West Chicago kids who like to belt out the soundtrack from “Frozen” became friends with refugee kids living in Glen Ellyn who also sing “Let it Go” into their hairbrushes when no one is looking. They had more in common than they expected. Our sons, who had determined they would play golf rather than attend the party, decided to stay. Once the trampoline began to get out of hand, they enticed them to climb to the top of our eighty foot pine trees and take in the view, (this was a bit much for my husband, the lawyer.) A few made it up there and saw that Wheaton looks like the Amazon canopy from that height, no houses visible. All geographic and ethnic boundaries dissolve when you are taking in the world from God’s overhead perspective. Our sons loved teasing the Parkside girls about how much Sarrancha sauce they put on their hot dogs, which they didn’t eat. We should have served rice. At least all the first of summer watermelon was devoured before the grilling was even over.

Piling them into the car brought cries of, “We should do that again,” from one of the shyest girls in my class and, “They were so nice to us. I love those girls.” So often, we don’t feel like doing that one more act of love that might really mean something to someone, because there are about a thousand rational reasons not to. I should go golfing with my sons was one I was mulling over. But when we go there, we get to witness His work of love with “canopy eyes” and see the view from above. We may be exhausted, but we are uplifted and in that view we grow closer to the one who made love possible. I was so proud of my kids that day….all eighteen of them.

Tagged: compassion, parkside