I am a firm believer that children say some of the most heartfelt prayers that I know. So, I asked my 1st grade class on Thursday to do me an extra special favor. I explained to them that 23 sisters would be renewing their vows on Sunday and I would be one of them. Could they pray for us at Mass?
They gave me many heartfelt assurances that they would do so and then immediately a plethora of hands went up into the air. What exactly are these vows? Explaining the vows in a way that 7 year olds can understand is very tricky, but I did the best I could. The one that they really understand, however, is the one about poverty. I believe all of my questions had to do with this vow. “You don’t have any money?...Not one dollar?... Not one cent?” With small children it turns from the broad to the miniscule, “What about the mechanical pencils?”
Question after question, with a statement of recognition thrown in about being married to God, until finally one of the biggest questioners raised her hand for the last time.
“But you’re so happy.”
The little girl stated it in real confusion. The mere statement caught me off guard that she had caught on, or had even been observing this fact and thinking about it. To her I must have had everything, that’s why I was so happy – and I do - but not by worldly standards by any means. So I led her on,
“Well… you’re so happy all the time… but don’t really have any stuff… so…”
“What does that tell you?”
In wonder she responded to me, “You don’t really need stuff to be happy.”
Now the rest of the students had no more questions. They had all traveled down the same thought process with her and were marveling at this foreign idea. Happiness does not come from material things. I felt like saying, “Class is over I’ll see you next week.” But I could merely nod my head and proceed, “Alright 1st grade, today we’re going to learn more about dynamics. What can you tell me about that composer we learned about last class?”
As I go into renewal this weekend, I’ll have the wonder of the little girl’s face in my mind and her words on my heart. You know what? I am happy, and it’s because of Christ, not things, that I am.
- Sr. Mary George F.S.G.M.