Monday, March 14, 2005

For Mr. Cody

There is a man named Robin Cody and he drives a special ed school bus in Portland, Oregon. He is also a writer. His essay, “Miss Ivory Broom,” is published in the 2004 edition of Best American Spiritual Writing.

Miss Ivory Broom is six years old, is confined to a wheel chair, has brain damage, and, as Mr. Cody writes, has the spirit and heart of a giant. Mr. Cody confesses that he is in love with her. He also writes of Jacoby, who arrived on the bus scene sullen, withdrawn and cantankerous. He was kicked out of his neighborhood school for defiance and for not trying. He told Mr. Cody that he hated riding with the retards. Then he sat next to Ivory Broom, and one day she dropped her tissue after blowing her nose and Jacoby picked it up and Mr. Cody saw the gesture and knew something good was afoot. As the days progressed, Jacoby began to change – he soon started to teach Ivory her numbers. Mr. Cody has watched them through his rear view mirror and is happy that he has seen a little boy’s heart grow. He was, in time, elected president of the bus by the other kids.

And there is Anthony, developmentally retarded; who was so happy when given a small dish of ice cream that he wet his pants.

And Ashley, who is brain damaged from a car accident in which her mother was killed.

Some of the kids come from achingly painful home situations. Mr. Cody knows that and realizes that the brief time he has with the kids can ease some of the pain in their lives.

Mr. Cody loves the kids and they obviously love him. And, wondrously, that love is shared among the kids.

It is a beautiful essay, about a beautiful gift – the human heart. Residing as it does in bodies that are damaged, or healthy, or young or old, it is the place that can make of a bus ride with damaged children something very close to Paradise.
We heard words about heart, about the encouragement of heart, in this morning’s first reading.

We look for heart our whole lives. We look to know it, to live from it, to receive it.

Jesus knew how important it was be of courage in matters of the heart – and so we know it is important to encourage each other to be of heart, to be of good heart.
It is interesting that Mr. Cody has won several awards for his writing, and was once director of admissions at a college and taught English at the American School in Paris. It makes me wonder why he is driving a bus of retarded children these days. I think he has found heart, and rides in it every day.

Susan Sontag once wrote that she could tell if a person was in love by the way he or she wrote. The prose, she said, was heightened by and enflamed by love.

That is beautiful.

And so is the wonder that hearts are burning with good things on a little bus in Oregon, where a man has found his treasure and children have found theirs.

It is easy to tell.

It comes through his writing. And it comes through very, very well.

No comments: