The small rectangular metal box upon my desk had been there for many a year. Not more than an inch thick measuring 3x5 inches tops, it had lain dormant for as long as I could remember. Sporting a coral colored lid, the letters were bold. On top, and on each of the four sides it spoke. “Secrets,” it announced. Who would not be tempted to peek within?

I wondered what secrets it holds? The thought came out of nowhere. What treasure was within the little box sitting atop the riff-raff of rubber bands, tape, paper clips and more?

Thinking back, it stirred memories. I recall keeping it safely tucked within the deepest compartments of my classroom desk. Year after year, at the beginning of the year, I’d sort through the drawers, and each time I did, the little box remained tucked away — far away — from little hands that might accidentally come across it.

Ahhh, now I remember, I thought. I’d kept the “secret” of the little box a secret because there was danger within! Today, as I lifted the lid all careful like, before me were the double edged razor blades I’d forgotten about. Much needed they were to remove the hardened chunks of gum cleverly stuck to the bottom of the classroom tables. Safety pins, needles, and a few sewing instruments joined in the collage of weapons of warfare to make my life easier in case of emergencies.

A nifty little container it was, and well- labeled for such a time as this.

But wait! As I looked closely at the little box before me, I noticed. The box did not have “Secrets” in script upon it, but rather, “Sucrets!”

For a moment, just a brief moment, I envisioned all of the fun secrets the little container contained, but I’d gotten the label wrong! It may perhaps hold a few secrets, but the original purpose was for those nifty little throat lozenges for sore throats!

How often am I guilty of such things? How often do I get labels wrong? How often do I think I understand when in fact, I do not?

So often I’m focused on my thoughts, my interpretations, or what I see through my narrow perspective of the world. I forget that it is just as important, if not more so, to understand the thoughts, interpretations of others, and to see what it is they see through their perspective. How often do I think I understand, when the reality is, I do not. How often do I just get it wrong when assuming I got it right?

Pause, breathe, listen ... is recycling within these days. The hope is that once I better listen, others may feel more understood, and once they are understood, perhaps that will be enough to help them, in turn, listen to another.

“Lord, Make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon and where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, may I bring hope.

Where there is darkness, may I bring Your Light, and where there is sadness, ever Joy.

Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may never seek, so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,  and it is in dying we are born to eternal life” (Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi). Amen.

Kathleen Kjolhaug lives on the family homestead outside of Clearbrook with her husband Pete. She enjoys writing about family life and brings humor into the sacred moments of everyday living.

Theology in the Trenches appears in several local newspapers throughout Minnesota. Kathleen can be reached by e-mail at wemenews@gvtel.com

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