As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we would like to put before you a school story that brings a different, and a deeper, meaning to the word ‘empty’. You may likely have seen this story (or a similar version) before. Nonetheless, it clearly underscores how God can use what society might term ‘the least’ to convey the most.
Jeremy Forrester was born physically handicap and mentally challenged. At 12 years old, he was in the second grade and his teacher, Doris Miller, often became frustrated with him because he would squirm in his seat and make grunting noises which distracted the other students. Yet, other times, he spoke and behaved very well.
One day, at a parent teacher conference, Miss Miller told the Forrester’s, “Jeremy really belongs in a special needs program. I believe he would feel more comfortable if he were surrounded with others with similar disabilities.”
Mrs. Forrester was very disheartened and began to softly cry, while her husband spoke.
“Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school with special needs programs nearby. It would really disappoint Jeremy if he had to leave this school because he has told us how much he likes coming here.”
The teacher sat stoic, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to penetrate her heart and soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters, after all, their only child has a terminal illness. But it was very hard for her to teach the other students with Jeremy’s daily distractions. She felt he would never learn to read or write and that it was a waste of time to keep trying.
“Well, I’ll give it a few more months and see if he improves. Meanwhile, I highly suggest that you look into other resources to help him become successful.” said Miss Miller.
When the Forresters left, she sat at her desk and thought about the situation as guilt overwhelmed her. “Here I am complaining because I can’t seem to reach him and yet, his parents struggle with this more often. My situation is nothing compared to his parents. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”
A few months later as spring was arriving and while she was trying to teach, Jeremy unexpectedly stood up and limped over to her. He wrapped his skinny arms around her legs, looked up at her face and said loud enough for the whole class to hear, “I love you, Miss Miller.”
The other children began to giggle and mock him. Her face turned a beet red as she replied, “That’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please go take your seat.”
Jeremy went back to his seat and the excited children began telling Miss Miller about their anticipation of Easter coming. Then Miss Miller began telling the story of Jesus and emphasized the idea of new life springing forth. She gave each of them a large plastic egg, “Now I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that represents new life,” she told her class.
The next day at school, all the children placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miler’s desk. She picked up the first egg, opened it and found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower certainly is a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.”
A small girl in the first row waved her arm, “That’s my egg, Miss Miller.”
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life too.” Miss Miller said.
A small boy raised his hand, “That’s my egg, Miss Miller. My dad helped me.”
Then she opened another egg. She gasped when she saw the egg was empty. Realizing that it was Jeremy’s egg, assuming he didn’t understand the assignment, she didn’t want to embarrass him so she set the egg aside and reached for a different egg.
Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up, “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?’
Flustered she replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.”
“Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too.” He said.
The recess bell then rang and the children leapt up out of their seats and ran outside. Miss Miler sat in her seat and all the coldness she felt towards Jeremy suddenly melted away.
Three months later, Jeremy passed away. Those who went to pay their respect at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket… all of them empty.
May we not forget that the true meaning of Easter is reflected in the emptiness of the tomb that Our Lord left behind.
NOTE: This comes to you via Amazing Grace-My Chains Are Gone.org