My First Teacher
Br. Carlos Ruiz, LC
It is 5:20 am. I am lying in my bed, in the darkness of my room. Outside lights are on. I see the light coming in through the small gap between the door and the floor. I hear noises from the bottom floor. Someone is coming up the stairways. He is approaching, and I can feel how carefully he walks so as to not make too much noise. He is at my door. I can feel him, and I can hear his hand turning the door’s handle very slowly, very softly. He entered. I pretend I am asleep and I see him through my semi-closed eyes. He is tired, almost asleep. He extends his hand and shakes my shoulder gently, with tender care. He bends over and tells me in my ear, “Gringo, it’s time to get up.”
Day after day, he was always there, every morning, waking up earlier than anyone else. It wasn’t so much a routine, as a gesture of love.
He was a peculiar teacher, and probably the best I have ever had, because it wasn’t so much his words that taught me, but his example. And now I see that even the disagreements with him were always intended for the best.
He did not have a schedule, which was an advantage. In fact, every time I called him he answered and was willing to listen and give me his time. He never made me feel as just another person, for him I was someone valuable.
It really seemed that he would do the impossible if I asked him to. I always received more than I could take from him. In his workplace I saw him in action, dedicating his life to others, literally saving them. He sacrificed countless hours for those under his care, putting aside any moment of personal enjoyment whenever he was needed.
For him, love was not a burden, though many times he was tired. He loved his call, his vocation and he dedicated every single beat of his heart to carry it out. My first teacher was never absent, even in sickness he knew that I depended on him. He knew my future was to a certain extent in his hands, and he would not spare a moment to lead me in the right way.
And the time came for me to put into practice the greatest lesson he ever taught me, to give one’s life for others. And it wasn’t easy for him to let his student go, but he knew I was going to be happy, and though he probably did not realize it, I had embarked on the imitation of him, who taught me about life, about responsibility, about true love.
And why do I keep this in my heart? He never went to school. I don’t think he knew what he was doing, and I don’t even suppose he did all those things on purpose. But he loved me, and it is that love, that instinct that led him to lay down his life for me.
And he still does it today; even now I know he is giving it all. And I can safely say that today I am what I am because I had him in my life.
Thank you, Dad!
Br Carlos studies humanities at the Legion’s novitiate and college of humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut.
Photo credit: john curley on flickr