“BUYING OR BAGGING your lunch today, Kathryn Wilcox?” My new teacher asked me ten minutes after The Pledge of Allegiance.Like many teachers she had chosen to take the lunch count in alphabetical order. By the time she got to my name half the class was finished with half of the writing assignment. I didn't start on it because I was afraid I wouldn’t hear her call my name for my lunch report and everyone would laugh.
I answered her and said, “Bagging.” For five years I had been bagging my lunch at Oakley Elementary School. Mom and Dad couldn’t afford the lunch money. I loved making my own PBJ sandwich or cheese sandwich made with lots of Miracle Whip.
My worse day of the week was walking by the lunchroom on Thursday when the heavenly aroma of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup titillated my taste buds. When I entered packer room my happy nose was assaulted with the smell of rotting banana peels, brown apple cores and uneaten tuna fish sandwiches.
From Kindergarten through fifth grade I always took my place near the rear of the line whether we went to art, gym, music, lunch or the restroom. I had seen a lot of weird stuff. Everyday in third grade the same girl and boy kissed on the lips the full five minutes while the teacher was out of the room using the restroom before lunch.
My plan was to marry cute Bruce Adams and stop the last name with the “W” curse. Our children would never have to sit in the back of the classroom and squint their eyes to see the blackboard. They would never have to wait for the office to run off extra copies of permission slips to go to the Zoo. Nope. Never.
Back in fourth grade my teacher, Miss. Wilson, understood the last name “W” dilemma. Every other week she started at the bottom of the alphabet for roll call, lunch report and lining up. God bless that woman even if she did look like a buzzard.
I watched how my new, poised teacher handed the lunch money envelop to Dallas Anderson. She did it with such flair I thought it might be a letter to President Eisenhower. Dallas over-reacted and marched across the front of the room like a soldier. It made Helen Martin and me giggle.
Five minutes later we heard Dallas returning from the lunch room. He was shaking the loud tokens in the SUCRETS lozenge tin all the way down the hall.The dimwitted boy had no clue what he was doing. I may be shy but my giggle box was not.
The class laughed and we wagged our heads. Twenty-four pair of eyes watched to see what the teacher would say or do to the immature boy. She simply ignored him and kept looking over her lesson plans when he placed the lozenger box on her desk. She waited until he sat down before she picked up a long piece of white chalk with her bony fingers and walked to the board. I felt myself beginning to like this teacher for some reason. I liked the way her silver gray hair fit neatly into a French twist, but too bad her dress was so drab.
After she wrote her name on the board she turned around and faced the class with a smile. We gasped in horror! We couldn't believe what we were seeing. Billy Aims spun around in his front row seat with his eyes crossed and his mouth hanging open. I pressed my hands hard on my mouth so I wouldn’t laugh. The teacher might think I was laughing at her name.
“Class, my name is Miss Krapp.”
Why was that a last name I wondered? Who would start that as a last name? If I had a last name like that I would never be a teacher and cause kids to cuss all day! I would get a job in a library somewhere at the North Pole and refuse to wear a name tag. Or, I would get married quick! I was so glad my last name was Wilcox. I would never complain again.
A WEEK PASSED and we still called her, “Teacher” like little first graders. By October only a few brave students said, “Miss Krapp”. I couldn’t say it. I wasn’t allowed to say a bad word.
Day by day my teacher’s kindheartedness rubbed off on my wretched soul. She noticed and praised each of her students. When she bragged on my cursive “Ks” and “Ws” I felt like a Queen for a Day on the Jack Bailey Show.
Miss Krapp was the epitome of patience, love, quiet order, and teaching outside the box.
One day Miss Krapp picked me to take the lunch money to the lunchroom. I was thrilled but also astonished she would pick a poor bagger girl. For some reason she smiled extra big when she handed me the brown envelop.
As I turned to leave the lunchroom with the tokens in the Succret tin an older, kitchen woman asked me to speak with her in private. She smiled and explained that the kitchen was looking for sixth graders who would be interested in helping out in the lunchroom. My pay would be a hot lunch everyday I worked.
I knew Miss Krapp’had something to do with this.
My mother signed the permission slip and we went shopping for a hair net to cover my curly hair.
I couldn't wait until Thursday.
One day after lunch Miss Krapp, my favorite teacher, read a Bible devotional about children playing the game Hide-and-seek with their parents. She said remember how you used to hide behind a door or a tree because you wanted your mommy or daddy to come find you? Remember how happy you laughed and how you ran off to hide again?
God does the same kind of hiding from us because he wants us to take the time to find Him, too. We think because we can’t see Him that He is not real but He is very real, indeed.
She asked us to put our head down on our desk, close our eyes tightly and count to ten together slowly. We did it. When we raised our heads Miss Krapp was gone!
“Hello! Can you hear me?” Miss Krapp asked.
“Yes!” We answered.
“Can you see me?” She asked.
“No.” We answered all excited.
“Am I in the room or outside the room?
“In the room!” We proclaimed.
“How do you know I’m in the room?”
We just looked at each other and waited for Elizabeth who knows how to say things with few words. “Because you sound close and not far.”
Miss Krapp popped her head out from under her desk. Everyone laughed and clapped. She got to her feet and fell into her chair. Our eyes glowed with excitement as we breathlessly waited for an explanation
My spirit jolted inside me as she began to speak.
“I can easily hide from you under a desk,” she said taking a deep breath, “but I could never hide from God. If I went deep, deep down into a cave or the bottom of the ocean God could see me. Wherever you go He is there and He sees you. You are the apple of His eye and He loves you very much. The Bible says in Psalm 139:8. If I ascend up into heaven, thou or God art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou God art there.
“You couldn’t see me but could you hear me, right?” Miss Krapp asked.
“We can’t see God because He is invisible but we can hear his words!”
Billy Aims piped up, “How do we hear God's words?”
Miss Krapp held up her worn, black Bible. “We hear God through His Word in the Bible!”
Little did I know that this wonderful Christian woman was helping me see that God was waiting for me to find Him.
Are you looking for God?
Have you found Him, yet?