Have you ever danced in your living room when no one was home? I don’t mean danced like you would at a party when you know all eyes can see you, but really danced, with only God’s eyes on you. You were amazing, I know. Just like I was. I was a prima ballerina and a lyrical genius. I danced like David before the Lord with all my might (2 Samuel 6:14) and sang a song that rivaled that of the angels. We do marvelous things when our intentions are pure… when we’re sure that no one is watching but God.
As I come to the end of another school year, I necessarily begin to think about the next one. There’s an odd mixture of disappointment and excitement swirling in those thoughts. I remember how last year began, with the song, like David’s, on my lips; and it has ended somewhat muted (like when you realize that someone is behind the shower door listening as you belt out your world class rendition of the Star Spangled Banner). My plans for the new school year are grand though. This is the year I will rise up and catch grace on a shooting star. Every year begins that way. Ah yes, this is the year I will dance while I teach! That is my dream anyway; the one I speak when I’m alone in my living room before the Lord.
How would you teach if no one was watching? What would your day look like if there was no superintendent, no testing, no skeptic to satisfy?
The first time I actively engaged this question, I felt a lump of emotion rise to my throat. There was a freedom and joy in the answer that startled me. My days would not look like my days as they are now. My books would be different. There would be a lot more doing, seeing, and dancing. The liturgical year would be my school calendar and that rhythm would guide our dance steps. My heart soars at the thought… and then shrinks back in fear.
It is shameful for me to think about how much of my school is led by fear. There have been many days when I have sat paralyzed by the immensity of the task, this educating and planning so that the children will be a success. The sun shone and the world looked inviting and it beckoned. And I said “NO” because I was afraid. Maybe we’ll go to Mass today and to the park and pick some flowers to press… and then we’ll visit someone and paint something and lay around and read and write letters to mail. And then I thought about the unfinished workbook pages…
The interior dialogue begins and we think of the empty box waiting to be checked. We think of our planner. We think of our neighbors and of grandma, God bless her, who keeps asking after our school work. We think of the superintendent. We think of college. Our brains start to calculate. Well, I guess we can make the park a “nature hike” and cover Science. Pressing flowers could be Art if we display them on the wall. Maybe we could call it Botany. Painting is Art, too… is that too much Art? Reading is good but maybe I should ask some comprehension questions in the car. Writing letters could certainly be English. And if we skip Mass, we can get those workbook pages done in the morning.
We begin to calculate the joy and purity out of the dance… and the children begin to notice… and droop. We are like bargain shoppers: How can I fit every single particle of life into school? And isn’t that backwards?
My mission for the coming school year is to invite that passion and purity back into our home. I do have boxes I must check and papers I must sign, but as I stand at my mental blackboard, I remember the primary reason I educate my children at all and I resolve to keep it in sight this year.
In the Scriptures, Jesus never specifically teaches children, only adults. He calls the children to Himself and He touches them. Then He exhorts the adults to become as the children (Luke 18:16). He calls us to trust. He calls us to purity and joy. He calls us to dance like a child before His throne and learn to love Him for His sake and not just because He is a subject on the list.
How would you teach if there was no one but Jesus watching? As we rework our goals for the coming school year, I will write them down and refer to them when I need reminding. At the top of the page I will write:
Dance Like David… With All Our Might
College scholarships have never been known to increase character or holiness.
Maybe a day will come when I will dance, sing, speak, write, and teach before the Lord with all my might… and not care if you are there to see me. Maybe I will not change any step or word of it out of fear even though I might be misunderstood. And maybe, the Lord will see my children grown and still dancing before Him, and turn to me and say…
“Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:14-30)
If we engage the Heart of Jesus, He will bless our children. He will teach us and call them. And they will come joyfully to His arms even when the world rebukes them for it. Mission accomplished.
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