Recently I received a phone call from a lady enquiring about my Christmas ornament class. She wasn’t interested for herself but for her 9-year-old daughter, Chasity Allen.
Her mother told me, “She’s really excited to meet you and is very crafty!”
I registered Chasity and told her mom I was looking forward to seeing both of them in class. In the middle of a very hectic and chaotic week, it slipped my mind the mother-daughter team was coming until Chasity bounced into the room followed by her mother.
“I’m Chasity Allen and I know who you are,” she said with a gleam in her eye that lit up the room. She then gave me the biggest hug possible from a small-framed girl. We talked about both of us having Allen in our names.
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“We even spell it the same way,” she said with a big smile on her face. Chasity and her mother found their seats and I began class.
There was a wide range of ages represented in the room that night. Chasity was definitely the youngest by far and, just by chance, she had taken a seat by the oldest attendee. Although the project we were creating was not necessarily difficult, it was a detailed process and definitely required undivided attention.
As we all began pinning small pieces of folded fabric into a Styrofoam ball, several conversations popped up. As we talked, I walked around the room answering questions and giving advice.
For those of you who know me, you already know I don’t hesitate to jump into each conversation. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about our classes; everyone brings something to the table for discussion.
Chasity spoke with the precision of an adult and participated in several of the ongoing conversations. When I asked her where she attended school, she told me Vineville Academy for the Arts. I shared with the class that she attended the same school as our son Blake had atteded many moons ago. Chasity was thrilled we shared something else in common besides just a name.
I didn’t notice it immediately, but the older lady sitting next to Chasity was having some difficulty with her ornament. However, Chasity spotted it right away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chasity lay down her ornament and kindly proceeded to offer help to the lady.
These days, this is a gesture rarely seen. People generally get so caught up in their own issues that they seldom take the time to offer help -- especially someone as young as Chasity.
Watching Chasity, she could have taken my place in the class as teacher.
“You put this piece of fabric here and then that one goes right there,” she said pointing to exactly the right place.
“I see you have some help there,” I said to the lady. She smiled and was grateful for the extra set of hands.
As I moved to work with someone else, I couldn’t help but think about the way I was raised. I was always taught to treat every human being with respect -- especially someone who is older than me. I also was expected to help anyone whose path I crossed in any way possible.
In today’s very different world, it was so refreshing to see there are still children being taught the same way. Even though I was the teacher, Chasity reminded of an important lesson.
I walked over to Chasity to check on her progress and decided to tell her how impressed I was with not only her talent, but also her actions in relationship to the other woman.
“You are not only talented but also kind,” I said to her.
Chasity downplayed the compliment simply by saying, “I didn’t do anything special. I just saw the lady struggling and I wanted to help.”
My heart was touched. Here was a 9-year-old girl exhibiting more wisdom than some adults. I may not have remembered that Chasity was coming to my class but I’ll never forget that she did.
Chasity wanted to have a photo taken with me and asked me to autograph the section of the newspaper her mother brought in that contained my column from the previous Sunday. I sat down beside her, we snapped a selfie and then I signed the paper -- including my middle name “Allen.”
Bright and early the next morning I received this text from Chasity: “Thank you, Mr. Ballard. I loved the art class. Chasity Allen.”
There is no doubt we all can learn life lessons from children. Chasity’s actions and words had been selfless, pure and respectful. She offered a bright light that shined over the entire class. There is hope for our future!
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him at instagram.com/markcreates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.