"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:3
One of the real joys in my life as a School Chaplain is the opportunity to work with students across all divisions. Beginning with the Dandelion, Magnolia and Lily classes in Pre-K3, all the way up to 8th grade, St. George’s students explore what it means to live in community with one another. I am frequently surprised and overjoyed by their insights into how we treat each other and through their actions of compassion. In these activities, discussions and play, which explore what it means to live a life bigger than ourselves, the students reveal INCREDIBLE insight and wisdom.
This year chapel began by exploring the story of creation from Genesis. This is the well known story of how the cosmos were created with divine structure and limitless majesty— all in seven days. It is the story which begins to illustrate for Christians that we are all of one and the same substance that gives life to all. This is the same truth we live into during the sacrament of Holy Communion as we remember what Christ taught at that last supper— that we are one in his body and blood, members incorporate to everlasting life. And so there is a great connection and life-giving truth between creation and Holy Communion because within these we live into our universal heritage. All is sacred, and we are sacred in it.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “How can we teach all of this to a three-year-old? Or even a seventh grader?” We know well that famous line from Matthew, but how do we live into it when that student is right there before us? The secret… show and tell! After sharing this story of creation with the students, I then showed them a pyx from the church. This is the special container which we use to bring Communion to those who cannot receive it at the church itself, usually in a hospital. We held it, described it and wondered about how it could be used.
It was during this exploration with the Magnolia class that we had a moment of divine inspiration. After describing the pyx as something where we keep special things that remind us that we are loved, Wills R. picked up a leaf and asked, “Isn’t this special? Can we put it in there?”
“Of course this is special; this is part of creation, part of us. Of course we can put it in there.” I then asked Wills if there were other special things around us that we could put in our pyx. He delightfully exclaimed that there were and then spent the next few minutes carefully picking up sticks, pebbles and leaves that would fit. A moment of divine connection to be sure.
While this was surely a sweet and tender moment, it demonstrated a profound mystery perfectly. That connection between creation and Communion was made in an instant. That the life which gave rise to all the world, to all existence, is the same life we are invited to live in Christ. Tich Nhat Han expresses this mystery clearly with this image:
Let us visualize the ocean with a multitude of waves. Imagine that we are a wave on the ocean, and surrounding us are many, many waves. If the wave looks deeply within herself, she will realize that her being there depends on the presence of all the other waves. Her coming up, her going down, and her being big or small depend entirely on how the other waves are. Looking into yourself, you touch the whole, you touch everything
It was in this moment that Wills, and the other students of the Magnolia class, revealed this sacred mystery. It is through the eyes of our children, our students, that we are able to enter into this heavenly kingdom. May we come to share in their truth.
- Episcopal Identity