In Religious Studies, as we prepare the students for the coming season of Advent, we have invited them to enter into the hopeful spirit of the season. We talked about the hope that surrounded the first coming of the Christ child in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago; how we still long for the presence of Christ coming into our everyday lives; and how we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ in the fullness of time.
The topic provided a valuable opportunity for our Lakota students to gain perspective on the much-needed hope in their lives. We talked about patience, courage and persistence as essential for enduring hope.
That is when one precious first-grade girl helped to define patience as,
“Being able to wait for your turn to use the basketball without getting unhappy.”
The same wise little one explained that courage is,
“When you are learning to write in Kindergarten, and you aren’t sure you’ll be able to do it, but you keep trying.”
Ah, keep trying! That explained the value of persistence, as well.
This led into viewing the video “Keep Going” by Joseph Marshall III, writer, speaker, actor and technical advisor for films, who was born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. His short but valuable message encourages viewers to use the storms and difficulties of life to grow stronger. He advises that even the smallest, weakest step made in hope is stronger than any trial we encounter.
To round out the lesson, our students were invited to write down three things for which they hoped. These hopes were recorded on “leaves,” which my partner and I are assembling into an Advent wreath made up of all of the hopes and dreams of the students at St. Joseph Indian School.
Sure, there is more than one hope about what will be found under the tree on Christmas morning. But reading hope around this precious circle, one finds messages of healing brokenness in families and the world.
For me, the most tender hope was expressed by one little boy who recently lost his mother.
“I hope my mom can hear my prayers in heaven,” he said.
“She can,” I dared to promise him.