Every creature is a word of God and is a book about God
Posted: Wed, 24 Jun 2020 14:00
Continuing our series of articles by a Catholic teacher, this week Mike explores the glimpses of the divine we see in our schools and students.
"Every creature is a word of God and is a book about God"
These words come from the 13th century philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart. Like all mystics, he did not see God as confined to ancient scriptures or rituals, not that God cannot be found there; He is experienced universally, in all things and at all times. In proclaiming that "every creature is a word of God and a book about God", Eckhart viewed reality through the incarnation; all that is, is God, as God intended it to be.
In the current climate, I miss my pupils. I often find the most difficult day of the school year is the day that Year 11 leave. Having journeyed with the cohort from childhood, through adolescence and into early adulthood, I genuinely miss them when they leave. Their lives have been a book that has reflected God, and I have had the privilege of reading them and their stories. The comedy, the angst, the successes, the failures and, sadly at times, the tragedy. During this lockdown period, I don't think that I am alone in missing my pupils. The vocation of teacher requires, indeed demands, that we walk the walk with our pupils. This journey is a very real pilgrimage, and each day is a new chapter in the book that the children compose about God.
Children have taught me more about forgiveness than any theologian. Their willingness to smile and let go of negativity when I have been in the wrong truly humbles me. I have been given lessons in trust when youngsters have turned in for revision sessions after school, on weekends, trusting my ability to teach and to help them reach their potential. The generosity of young people to take part in fundraising and charity events has taught me more about the providence of God than anything I could read in a book. Children are truly volumes rich with truth and the beauty of God.
A teacher's role is to read and revel in the learning. This is surely what De La Salle and Bosco did. They looked at many a 'tatty' cover and lived by the maxim not to 'judge the book by its cover'. This is what makes these two saints worthy of our respect and trust. They, like Meister Eckhart, looked at children through eyes of Christ and could see that they were living reflections of the invisible God. For when we look at our children this way, God is no longer invisible or an abstract principle that exists beyond time and space, but an incarnate reality as St Mark proclaims: 'A God of the living' (Mk12:27). For when we look at children as a reflection of God, we are looking at the living God in all people.
St Oscar Romero's friend, Fr Rutilio Grande, said that he could not worship an invisible God, who he could not see, if he did not love the God he did see in his parishioners. This deep spiritual insight is worthy of our practice on a daily basis. To constantly see the invisible God written by the pupils we teach is to see them as "a word of God and a book about God".
Photo: Andrew Ebrahim on Unsplash