To Sir, With Love

16 Sep

While in the Henry’s market today, I heard the song “To Sir, with Love” piped in overhead and was immediately transported back to my teenage years when my father insisted that I sit down and watch Sidney Poitier in the movie. (During Humphrey Bogart week, I was expected to view each film that aired as well). A wave of nostalgia hit me, not only for those years back at home but for a movie that would probably seem mind boggling innocent now.  

In “To Sir, With Love”, Sidney Poitier plays a school teacher in a rough London neighborhood who with dignity and strength, helps his troubled students take on those very same qualities. The final scene culminates at a dance party where the students express their love for him. It gets me every time, particularly the blond haired girl who adored her professor and asks him to dance with her. The soundtrack lyrics go – 

“And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend, a friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong, that’s a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return? If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start, but I would rather you let me give my heart, To Sir, With Love.”

It gets me in the gut every time for who of us daughters hasn’t needed someone to teach us “right from wrong/weak from strong” – and sometimes we don’t get that from our fathers but from the Sirs. The Sirs who who love us but don’t hurt us. The Sidney Poitiers of this world. 

I have had a few Sirs in my life who have changed me irrevocably for the better, even if they themselves don’t know the magnitude of their impact or teaching. The writer Antoine de St. Exupery once said, “Love is the process of leading you gently back to yourself.” The Sirs of our lifetimes assist us in this process, so of course we’ll always hold them on the pedestal of our hearts – bigger than life because of the life they gave us.

I told the women in one of my bible study groups that if I’d been alive when Jesus was, I’d have had a crush big time. Because he was a Sir. Gentle. Strong. Commanding. Magnetic. Perhaps then, my nostalgia for the song I heard today takes on so many meanings as I walk deeper in my faith. Farther on the path with Jesus. 

In the end, it’s all a love song. “If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters that would soar a thousand feet high, – ‘To Sir, With Love.”

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