They stood in attention, these young lives who barely understood the concept of death. But they knew it was a solemn moment. When did they learn what a hearse was, that led the cars forming a string of slow silent sentinels on wheels, weaving their way to the cemetery?
For the past several years at our school, the children have stopped playing on the playground when a funeral procession leaves our church on its journey to the cemetery. The children made it their practice to stop, stand at attention, removing their hats and placing their hands on their hearts, giving a silent salute to the child of God who had gone home.
Today, Tony Krull, our local police officer and DARE teacher to our 6th grade students, sent me this message:
I just wanted to pass along an attaboy/attagirl to the kids at your school. I helped with a funeral escort last week. I noticed the kids all stop playing and put their hands over their hearts. They showed a lot of respect for the escort and to the family. I had a member of the family comment on how cool it was to see the kids do this.
Isn’t it amazing that we have inborn in us those feelings that allow us to know when something is right to do? So many things we know are right without the need to be taught. Could it be these young souls had some inner nudging that compelled them to show honor and respect without hesitation? They didn’t think twice. They just did the right thing that their heart told them to do.
On my wrist, I wear a bracelet, a gift from my sister Freda. She bought it in Selma, Montgomery last November in a little store at the end of the bridge, famous for the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights Marches. The bracelet reads simply, the time is always right to do what is right, – MLK.
At St. Paul’s Lutheran School, we have worked hard to instill and nurture what we call the FRUIT Values: F-faith; R-respect; U-Use manners; I-Integrity; T-teachable. Look at all the FRUIT values packed into the moment of respect demonstrated by the students at the funeral procession. The students stand in honor and respect not just because they know they can show the FRUIT values in that way, they just do it because it is right. That is the “fruition” of God’s love born in us.
What else in our world should we do because we automatically know it is right? May we have courage to take a stand and show our salute to what is right by doing what we know is right. May our actions and our words live Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Let the sound of that kind of love rise above the din of anger, hatred, bashing, and blaming that has filled our land. May the children lead us…let us all take up the FRUIT values and lead our broken world home.