A teacher gave a sheet of paper to every student in his class. On each sheet was listed the name of each child in that class. He left a few empty lines after each name, so that each child would write something positive about that particular student. It was a beautiful exercise which took quite some time to have it finished. The teacher then picked up all the papers and took them home with him. From this project he issued another list of sheets with each of the students’ names written on top, and listed underneath were all the comments that the other students had written. So each student had a separate sheet with a series of positive comments his or her friends had written on them. Back in school a few days later, the teacher distributed the papers to each student who were all delighted and surprised to read the nice comments written about them. They felt so united together.
Many years later, one of the students was killed in the Iraqi War, and his teacher and some of his classmates attended the funeral. Towards the end of the service, the mother of that soldier approached the teacher “You were his teacher years ago, weren’t you? My son talked about you a lot. Let me show you something. After my son was killed, they checked his wallet and found this worn-out note. He must have opened it to read it many times.” The teacher knew exactly what happened. He kept that note which encouraged him and motivated him – they were the comments his classmates had written about him years earlier. The mother said “I want to thank you very much. As you can see, he really appreciated that gesture, and treasured that note.” Another student attending the funeral said “I too carry that note with me all the time.” The wife of yet another student said “My husband insisted that we’ll put that note in our wedding album.” Another former student said “I kept my note close to me all my life. In fact I placed it under the glass on top of my desk, so that I can look at it often.” The teacher broke down crying. He cried not only for the fallen student-soldier, but also for the joy that a simple exercise on a sheet of paper had accomplished so much good and gave so many blessings.