While teaching my public school art class this week, a few of my second graders were engrossed in a conversation about their church experiences and what they thought their beliefs were. Being a transplant from the Midwest into the South a little under 2 years ago, I have learned that, even in the public school systems, people are very open and free about “believing out loud” about their spiritual and religious lives. I don’t have a problem with this at all…it was merely another “cultural” difference that I had to get used to very quickly.
One of these students turned to me and asked,”Where is your home church?” (This is almost a challenge when asked by some adults, I think.)
I replied,”Well…not that we should be talking about this in the classroom, but I haven’t looked for a home church since I’ve moved here. I did sort of have one before we moved down here, but our household truly believes that you should be able to go out in your yard, be at one with your natural surroundings, and be as close to whoever your “higher being” is as you will ever be.” (This was the most honest answer that I could give while tip-toeing around the “this is still a public school” issue. I believe that when children ask a question about their world, they should receive an honest answer…on their level.)
The child contemplated my answer for a few seconds, gave a half shrug, and said,”Sounds like “church” to me!” Not one child in the room gave any kind of rebuttal. They all just carried on with their conversations and creating 2nd grade art.
The irony in all of this was that not two weeks earlier, an elderly woman that I work with asked me the same question. I gave her somewhat of the same answer (on an adult level) to which I was pretty much ordered that I HAD to go to her church! Another woman entered the room, and when she realized that the issue at hand was that I was not in a “home church”, she literally got into an argument with woman #1 about who’s church I was going to attend! They were still cackling in a very un-christian type manner when I bowed out of the room and evaded the rest of the issue altogether.
They say you can learn a lot from a child. I’m pretty sure that most of what we could learn, we already knew. We adults have a funny way of bending and seeing the world through our own manipulative rose-colored glasses. Somewhere through our experiences we have convinced ourselves that whatever way that we have settled our lives into is the only way for everyone. This is how we justify ourselves. Most children, on the other hand, have not had the experiences that we have and they see the world through the eyes of…well…a child; with all of the beautiful innocence and ignorance that allows them to be completely blunt and honest and get away with it. I’m pretty sure that this is why I received such a different response from the same answer.
I do know the scripture Matthew 18:20 “Where two or more come together in my name, there I am with them.”
This being said (for centuries) I suppose that I was ” in church” with both the students and the adults over this topic. It is no wonder that I ducked out of the argument with the adults. I clearly do not want to take a moment of my time to “rejoice in my beliefs” with two ladies who want to prove that “their church” is better even though they are arguing over the same God. Somewhere in our adult lives, we need to stop and listen to our inner-child as well as those who are physically around us. We need to stifle that need to “be right”, and replace it with what “we know is right”. If more adults began to live their lives this way the world would be a much better place…