April 8, 2011

Happiness

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,

“And?”

“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.

7 comments:

sarah said...

Children have a way of understanding the most profound things in the most profound ways. Thanks for your wonderful reminder of why we do the things we do.
Sr. Sarah Heger, CSJ

Christine the Soccer Mom said...

How beautiful! And that could possibly be the best lesson they learn all week!

I read this to my girls (12 & 9, homeschooled), and they immediately began singing songs from "Madame Blueberry," the Veggie Tales story about how stuff doesn't make you happy. (And, naturally, I was already humming it in my head before I started reading to them!)

God bless you, your sisters, and all men and women who give up all the world for the Pearl of Great Price!

Mary @ A Simple Twist Of Faith said...

Well said, Sister. That is the true roadto happiness, it just takes some of us (me) longed to relaize it than others.

Owen said...

Too bad so many of them grow up to have "It's complicated" status updates. Beautiful story though, Sister. Jesus & Mary, help me to be simpler.

O Senhor te dĂȘ a paz ! said...

PEACE AND GOOD BROTHERS, THAT SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI Plead for us with JESUS ​​CHRIST OUR LORD, AMEN!

Judy the youngest Goebel said...

Love the story. Kids really do learn when presented with answers to their questions. It also reminded me that the time I spend with my children is one of my best gifts to them.

danardoyle said...

I am a teacher myself. Kids' openness to be led in the faith always humbles me. This was a beautiful and profound discussion you had with such a little one. Awesome!