My name is Clare. I am the new Co-Director of Pastoral Care for St. Joseph Indian School, and this is my first blog. My career has included being a freelance graphic and editorial consultant, pastoral ministry in parish settings, campus ministry in a high school setting, teaching theology to youth and adults, and work as a designer, educator, artist and writer in the healthcare setting. I am delighted to be able to focus these coming years of my career with the students and staff in this very remarkable place.
In just six short weeks, I have already experienced many blessings. I’d like to tell you about an experience with one of our younger students. When he came into the room for the last class of the day, my little third-grade friend had racked up a full day of consequences for misbehavior. Shortly into the lesson, my teaching partner, Joe, and I gave him one strike in our “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” method of keeping order. (Out means you head to the office.)
Joe and I team-taught during the first two weeks, getting to know our 160 children in grades one through eight. We had a lesson planned where, as we tossed a ball of yarn from child to child to create a spider web, they learned the meaning of their names (I explained to the students that whoever had given them their first name, made that choice for his or her own reasons. I explained that the meaning I was going to provide them had to do with the basic origin of the name/word itself. Some names are from places, others from things in nature and others have to do with qualities). Once we got around the room, we unwound the web and recalled as much as we could. We had done this with other sections, including the other third grade, but our little friend was making it look impossible for this group. In short order he received strike two.
I looked at the eager little faces wanting to know the meaning of their names. Joe and I decided to risk it, modifying the web so that each time the yarn would be tossed back to him in order to maintain a little more control. About three tosses into the game, I realized that Joe was actually becoming entangled and wouldn’t be able to help with the fidgety little two-strike child at my side. That is when I looked down and saw his name means “strong and intelligent.”
“I know what your name means, and if you sit still, pretty soon you will, too,” I said, hoping to buy time.
“It’s a girly name,”
he said, for the first time losing the bravado he’d been hiding behind all day. Beneath his tough-guy facade, I could see the little bullied boy who wanted to be valued, and I felt the spirit of mercy.
“You know what?” I said. “I can tell by the meaning of your name that Joe is going to really need you in few minutes, but that means you are going to have to be last so that you can help him.”
His eyes got big, and he waited through 24 tosses of the yarn until it landed in his lap and I told him his name meant “strong and intelligent” and that Joe was going to need him to walk around the web and help untangle it.
“I know you can do this,” I told him, “because you are strong and intelligent.”
When the bell rang, the lesson was accomplished. More than that, a little mercy was just the right medicine for a child whose spirit needs much more healing.
God of mercy, send Your spirit into our hearts. Awaken in us the wonder of what mercy can do when we extend it to each other. Amen.