“Look at me”, I say to my students. “I want to see all twenty of you with your eyes looking at Mrs. Ramundo.
You are amazing! You are made in God’s own image, and because of that you have incredible dignity! How awesome is that? And no one can take that dignity away from you. No one. Not ever. How does that make you feel?” The responses come quickly: Special! Happy! Like Christmas morning! Like dancing! All warm inside! Like I can’t stop smiling!
And when I scan the beautiful faces of my students, they all can’t stop smiling! They have just encountered Theology of the Body. It’s not just their sweet faces that give away their joy, but their bodies too speak volumes. I notice that they are sitting a little taller, leaning in for more good news. Some are even so excited that they cannot be contained in the assigned carpet square “criss cross applesauce” position, but are now on their knees subtly scooting up, getting as close as they can to me.
And they are energized, eager to share their reactions. The joy is undeniable, and it is uncontainable! And so it goes as I move classroom to classroom sharing this good news for the first time. My role is to teach Theology of the Body to every student, in every class K-8 at Immaculate Heart of Mary.
I have won the teaching lottery! I too become almost giddy as I enter each new classroom. What a privilege it is to be able to look into each child’s eyes and to sincerely affirm them in such a genuine and profound way. “You are a child of God.” “You are loved beyond measure, and God invites you to share His love with everyone around you. You get to be a part of His mission. You are made to love!” The ah ha moment comes, and suddenly these tiny students understand what it means to be a disciple, and then the lightbulb really goes on when they come to realize that they ARE called to be a disciple. God loves them and needs them.
Wait, God needs them? He needs kids? Yes! They matter and are made for a purpose. This is lifechanging stuff! This is big! And so it begins, our journey with Theology of the Body. Each week, they are practically clapping as I enter the classroom. They are eager to hear more about how God loves them and about how they can live out their mission. The joy continues, as does another noticeable change. They are nicer to each other. They are more patient. I hear more complimenting, and I notice that they are reaching out to each other.
They seem to have recognized the dignity in one another, and it is changing the culture of their classroom. It has only been a week! How can this be? I wonder if they even notice the difference. It’s not like theirs was a classroom that was in need of repair, but there is a definite change…and I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of an amazing school year!
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