In my 3-and-a-quarter years of high school, I don't think I ever saw him talk to anyone. 

I had him in a couple of my classes. Every day, without fail (excluding test days), he spent the entire period with his head laid down on the table. Sleeping. Or so it seemed -- I mean, it's not like anyone ever bothered to check. He wasn't on my mind a lot -- or ever. I only thought about him when a teacher would ask off-hand in the middle of a lesson, Is that Gary sleeping again? Had he been oblivious to the giggles and the laughter as jokes about him cracked over his head? I knew that he wasn't because, sometimes, he'd lift his head and look up long enough to show that he was not asleep. Yet that didn't stop me from laughing along.

When he looked at you, his eyes would flinch nervously -- or defiantly -- from yours. His expression was fierce. And utterly silent.

I never thought about him. No one ever did. Until Thursday, that is.

On Thursday, Gary brought a home-made bomb to school.

The police were called in. His locker raided, his belongings confiscated, his school records stamped with "Expelled."

It's probably the last I'll ever see of him.

However, it certainly hasn't been the last I've thought of him. My first thought, right when I heard the news, was probably the same one that's running through your mind right now: My gosh -- that could have killed someone! Was he crazy?! How could he? 

My second thought was: Well, what did you expect?

The bomb he brought was no joke: no little sparkler or mini-firework. The bomb could have left people blind, disfigured, or worse. But what did I expect? The guy who was, to us, nothing more than some wierd kid who always slept and never talked -- did I expect him to see us as anything more than a homogenous group of jeering, uncaring teenagers? Could I really expect someone upon whom we had never bestowed any value to see our value? We had no regard for his life -- why were we so surprised to find that he had no regard for ours?

In no way am I condoning what he did, or planned to do. I'm merely saying that we'd been doing the same to him for many years, minus the explosives. And I did nothing to set myself apart and show him the love that God has for him.

Thursday evening, I put these thoughts aside for a while to surf some blogs. On one of them, Casting Crowns' "If We Are The Body" came on in the flash music player. I sang along, swaying my head and lifting my eyes at all the appropriate moments. 

To God, that must have been one of the most ironic moments of history.

"But if we are the Body 
Why aren't His arms reaching? 
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching? 
And if we are the Body 
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way? 
There is a way..."

In my 3-and-a-quarter years of high school, I don't think I ever saw him talk to anyone. Certainly not to myself. 

Or maybe, I was the one. Who never stopped to speak. Never stopped to listen.

Name of student changed to protect his identity. Photo from JupiterImages.


laura liz said...

wow... amazing post, it really hits home...

Oksana said...

Hey Laura! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Yeah, it really does hit home... when you think of what could have happened -- and how what did happen could have been prevented. I'm just grateful that things turned out this way, and not worse.

Hannah said...

wow. incredible! a real mind buster. Thanks for blogging.

Ruthie-Roo said...

missed your posts... you ok? x

Oksana said...

Hi Ruthie! Yes, I'm fine, but I'm really busy, and haven't had time to post. Thanks for keeping me in mind! :)

Hannah: Thanks for your comment!

James said...

This is a moving story. And the lyrics of that song really pierce my soul. Thank you for sharing. Praise God for his awesomeness, may we be more open to him using us. I feel very challenged recently to have a more caring heart for the poor...this video really spoke to me:

God Bless,

- James

Oksana said...

Thank you James! :)


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I'm Oksana—Communication major, shutterbug, occasional blogger, incessant doodler, graphic design geek, and writer of sentimental prose. I am quite content to spend an afternoon with a pencil, a few blank Moleskine pages, and a playlist of indie folk. I love musical theatre, black-&-white movies, and Eastern European illustration. Conversations with strangers make my day. When it rains, I make a beeline for my mug of green tea and stack of 19th-century fiction. I'm vegetarian about 98% of the time. I'm extremely awkward and rather nerdy. I love the sea. My name means 'hosanna' and I'm having the time of my life living to praise the One who set me free.

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