The children were asked to think of one thing that they really want to learn about in the remaining part of the year, and during their independent work time, they were supposed to come and tell me, and I would write it down. Almost like a New Year's Resolution, but just a way that they wanted to grow with the Good Shepherd this year.
One of the children walked up to me with a blank piece of paper and scissors, and sat down next to me. I asked him if he had thought about what he wanted to learn this year, and he immediately started getting defensive. He ignored my question, and started telling me how he really wanted to draw something on that piece of paper that he knew was not something he should draw in the atrium. We encourage the children to draw things related to Jesus and sometimes they draw sports or superheroes, or princesses, and we gently remind them that this is their special time with Jesus, to learn more about him and listen for his voice, and that is why when we draw, we are asking them to draw pictures that help them think about Jesus.
I asked him again, what he wanted to learn about this year, and he said "this is going to sound mean, and I do not want it to sound mean, but I don't like the atrium" and I asked him why, and he said "because I do not always like thinking about Jesus" and I told him how much Jesus loves him, and that Jesus wanted him to spend that time with him. He pleaded with me that he goes to Mass twice a week, at school and with his family, and I assured him how good that was, and then he said "you know when we practice silence, and listen for the Good Shepherd, well when Miss Cathy asks what we heard I just make stuff up because I don't hear anything".
Aha, so he just doesn't get it.
I told him that Jesus DOES want to speak to him, and asked him if he wanted to practice listening for God's voice, and he agreed, so I told him to ask "Jesus, how much do you love me" and then to wait and listen for a response. So he did, and sat there for a minute, and then said "I don't hear anything." So I thought we could try images, allowing the Lord to use his imagination to speak to him. I asked him to picture his Christmas tree in his house, and he saw it, clear as day, and I told him, that is what Jesus does, he can use your imagination and the pictures in your head to talk to you, so we asked the question again, "Jesus, how much do you love me" and this time he sat there for a minute, and when he opened his eyes, he said "do you see that cross over there?" and he opened up his arms wide and said "this much".
Cue where Miss Clare begins to cry.
I told him "YES! That was Jesus speaking to you! He was using your imagination to give you a picture" and I wish that you all could have seen the look in his eyes when I told him this. Whatever defenses and anger he had put up coming into the conversation were gone, and he was so full of joy because for the first time, he felt the Lord speak to him. He finally understood. He went on to go and tell the rest of his classmates this great news, and invite and teach them how to hear the voice of Jesus too. What resulted was these little first graders asking Jesus questions, receiving pictures in their minds, and then drawing these images they saw in their head. It was such a joyful time in the atrium!
If I am being completely honest, I was not in a great place to be teaching that day, and whenever that happens, I know that the Lord always uses it, and He did yet again, and He always will.
Be looking for the ways the Lord wants to work in your life today, and listen to the Holy Spirit, because you may just be able to give someone a great gift through your openness!