Living into retirement may be simply making me more sensitive to the kind of readings I want to share with you today. But whatever the reason, I can surely attest to the fact that the great joy of teaching—in fact, I believe the reason for it in the first place—is the students.
In my daily devotions I use A Year With Thomas Merton, among other resources. Recently, two of his Journal entries have voiced what I believe about teaching. I want to share them with you today and tomorrow….
On the night watch, hurrying by, I pushed open the door of the novices’ scriptorium and flashed the light over all the empty desks. It was as if the empty room was wholly full of their hearts and their love, as if their goodness had made the place wholly good and rich in love. The loveliness of humanity which God has taken to Himself in love, and the wonder of each individual person among them. This is of final and eternal significance. To have been appointed by God to be their father, to have received them from God as my children, to have loved them and been loved by them with such simplicity and sincerity, without nonsense or flattery or sentimentality; this is completely wonderful….(Journal: November 27, 1961)
Merton taught the novices for a number of years, but his shining his flashlight into the empty classroom and remembering how privileged he was to be their teacher, not only flooded his heart, but mine as well. And so it is.