As we are entering this season of Lent, we need to look for Jesus here on earth. Three years ago, I started to work part-time as a special services bus driver for the local school district. I have a wide range of students: a boy and girl who are nonverbal and are in wheelchairs, age 19; two autistic students that are very sensitive to sounds and need reassurance when there is a change, ages 7 and 10; and one kindergarten foster child that has a lot of emotional trouble. Then we also have eight preschool 3- and 4-year-olds.
You would think that it would be a big headache every day, but with the help of my wife, Laurel (she works as a paraeducator for the bus) it is a great blessing. All of us on the special service bus are one big team. This does not mean we don’t have our trying times. One time I had to tell the mother of one of the autistic students that I had to go on to school as her son was screaming and would not get onto the bus, which caused a stir with the rest of the bus. We've also had bus trouble on the route and had to load the kids into vans. We have had our trying times.
What the kids have shown me is their love for one another. The older ones cannot talk, but they sure do communicate with their eyes and body language. The foster child sometimes gets on mad or so wound up after school that he will not sit down or be still. We have him talk to the older girl and he will calm down enough to sit and play with an iPad. If someone is gone, the children ask where they are and if they are sick.
It is truly a blessing to be able to drive these students to and from school. We truly see Jesus in each one of them as we interact with them on the bus.
One day, I had just gotten back from my morning route and my first student in a wheelchair gave us a big wave, then had taken one of her shoes off before the next stop. With a total look of mischief, she was watching to see if I was going put it back on. Then, after picking up the 10-year-old, there were about 10 ducks swimming on a pond with the sun shining on it just at sunrise. Then, not a mile down the road, there were four deer jumping across the road in front us, one of them a little behind the others. Laurel joked with the students that he was telling others to wait for him, as he was running hard.
I truly see Jesus in the children. In Mark 10:14b-15, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Then in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 4:9a, “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do no forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade away from your heart as long as you live.” Let this Lenten season open your eyes as a child and see God all around us, and do not forget.