We start every class with the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father and the Hail Mary because they’re on big poster boards, stapled to the wall. First graders in our diocese concentrate on learning the hows and whys of prayer, so this is our routine (if you know any 6-year-olds, you’re correctly picturing the 1/3 eager beavers who do the Sign of the Cross with rapid quickfire speed, 1/3 who look around with the “are you serious? We do this too much” eyes, and 1/3 who go forehead-chest-right-left, by accident).
Today we learned the Holy Trinity. Yup, simple as that. They all know it now, it’s down cold.
Jesus was the Son and He told his friends that His Father was going to send a “helper” to live in us and teach us while He’s in heaven. The Holy Spirit, the great mystery, is probably one of the hardest things to grasp. I admit I can only vaguely understand it, which sometimes proves its essential existence.
One of our students, a real sweetheart who always cuddles and loves us, looked confused as we explained the Holy Trinity.
“I don’t understand.”
Understatement of a lifetime, girly, believe me.
So I explained it as a tricycle, to make the connection with the Latin (I know they’re six, okay? I think kids can handle more than we give them credit). My brilliant friend and co-teacher said, “So just like a tricycle, you need all three wheels otherwise it will be unbalanced and fall over.”
Sadly, in ten years, this sweet girl will not voice her confusion. What makes us think that we have to understand every last part of this life? Fear. If we ask the question, we’re in a limbo where the answer may tug us one way or another. Asking the question catapults us into that place of uncertainty.
However, if we don’t ask the questions, we are as uncertain, yet less inclined to pull ourselves out of the confusion. I’m proud of her for asking and I wanted to hug her and say, “I know, not very many people do. It’s the kind of thing you learn over several experiences as you pick up on things through life.”
As we addressed a few weeks ago, kids have the perfect mindset for coming in contact with Jesus’ teaching. It’s the rest of us who have to hear it, translate it, translate it back, answer it and then translate our answer.