The Last Jelly Bean

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A recent move required that I clear out a few desk drawers. In the process, a relic surfaced from my days as a teacher: A solitary jelly-bean. This bean has taken residence in a corner of my desk drawers for at least fifteen years. It was handed to me by a 3rd grader who I’ll call Alan.

Twice a week Alan arrived 45 minutes early to my classroom. Our goal together was to keep him up on his assignments.

Alan’s home life was full of disruptions. There was little structure and zero support for education and homework. Not only did Alan sleep in his clothing each night, he often returned to school in those same clothes. This would happen two or three days in a row and would have been less of a concern had Alan not suffered from chronic bed wetting.
On one particular morning, Alan burst into the classroom with an unusual amount of gusto and ran to my desk. “Ms. Christian!” he announced, “I went to a holiday party last night and they gave all us kids a free bag of jelly-beans.”
Reaching deep into the pungent, moist folds of his soiled pocket, Alan pulled out a sticky yellow jelly-bean and said,

“Here! I ate all of them, but I saved this one just for you. Go ahead, eat it!”

I looked from the glistening gift to his cherub face. The sugary outer coating was already eroding from the yellow bean.

Alan was glowing. My heart was sinking into the stark dilemma of picking my health over his tender hearted gift.
Dropped inwardly onto mortal knees a cry went out from my soul, “I can’t ingest this peed on jelly-bean please show me another way to honor this moment?”

Immediately a still, quiet connection to the highest order of wisdom came to me and the thought occurred to check the top drawer of my desk. I reached down, opened the drawer and the first thing I saw was a newly issued play-ground whistle. “Grab that!” a voice whispered in my mind.

As soon as my fingers touched the small plastic box encasing the whistle, my hands opened the crystal-like container, pulled the whistle out, and these words slipped off my tongue, “Alan, would you please put the jelly-bean in this box. This gift is too precious to eat. Just like you did, I am going to save it. I plan to keep it here in my desk in this treasure box. Every time I look at it, it will remind me of you.

As the years have passed, I’m sure that Alan has forgotten my promise, but I haven’t. This single jelly-bean reminds me to trust that the Universe, a higher self, God, the soul’s voice, or whatever you name “it” is always, always there.

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