I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Called to Be Childlike

It's impossible not to notice that in the recent Sunday Gospel passages (October 4, September 27, & September 20, to name a few) Jesus focuses his followers on being childlike (not childish). Yes, children - they rely on their parents to provide for them so they don't have to worry, and they accept faith without reservation (and without letting limited human knowledge try to reason out and prove everything God has done).

So, if the disciples and others didn't get the message the first time, Jesus tried again...and again...

Being a middle school religion teacher, I'm at a crossroads with my students - it's the time of their lives when many of them start leaving their childlike faith for one where, instead, they try to fit God into a box, so to speak. (He doesn't belong in a box, by the way - He's too big for that.) In fact, a large percentage of my 8th graders are probably at a point where they think they know everything, or, if they don't, they at least feel like they need to sound like they have all the answers.

But there are some that are holding on to that childlike faith...

The students just finished their first unit of the year on prayer and the Mass. Their culminating project was to create a children's picture book about prayer - it could be informational (just the "facts") or it could actually be a story that illustrates the ideas behind prayer and having a relationship with God. About 80% of students chose the former format (which was undoubtedly the easier way to go), but the remaining ones opted for the latter. What resulted was incredible - these 13 and 14 year olds crafted stories that could probably only be told by children:

- One girl told the story of a young child who had a special relationship with her grandfather; she would call him, text him, write him, and draw him pictures, depending on how it best felt to talk to him that day. At times she would forget or not have time to call him, and she would feel sad. But, when she finally would pick up the phone again, she would only have to ask him to forgive her, and he would do so because he loved her. (Wow.)

- Another girl told the story of a young boy who planted a seed. He watered it and talked to it, but other kids made fun of him. So, after a time, he neglected it; the plant withered and shriveled up. The boy felt sad. He was sorry, and he tried to take care of the plant after a time...and it started to grow back. Eventually, a flower blossomed, and then many more did too. In the "epilogue" my student explained what everything in the story represented. (Again, wow.)

- One student wrote of a boy who was sick and dying from a disease. As his health deteriorated, so did his faith. At the end of his life, he ended up turning back to God, who welcomed him into heaven with open arms, praising the boy for his courage and faith. In this student's epilogue, she explained how everyone from time to time has challenges with his/her own faith, yet God remains there for us, waiting to welcome us back with open arms. (Holy cow - most adults have a hard time putting such things into words.)

There were other stories like these too. What a wonderful living and breathing example of what it means to be childlike as the Gospels have pointed out.

Again, Jesus is trying to tell us something. Let us be open to seeing as children see and entering into a relationship that is completely dependent on God.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! I don't know if I could have explained those things so well myself!