“We don’t actually think you’re crazy.”
I smiled at that as the student walked out the door. While I wasn’t extremely worried that they thought I was, there was a moment today when I wondered if I had pushed them over the edge.
We were finishing up a PowerPoint from yesterday about Purgatory and someone asked a question that related to saints, although I’m not quite certain what it was at the time. The saint they used as an example was St. Anthony. Oftentimes I don’t share personal stories with them for a few reasons but today one instantly came to mind.
“I got in a fight with St. Anthony once.”
They looked up at me, puzzlement chiseled into their features.
“When I was younger my mom always told us to pray to St. Anthony if I lost something. So I would pray that he would help me find my overdue library book. And he would. One month later after I already bought the book. So I finally got mad at him and told him I wasn’t going to pray to him anymore. And so we didn’t talk for a while.”
“Wait…you and your mom? Or you and St. Anthony?”
I looked at their faces. They wore a bemused expression but they were all paying attention and seemed interested.
“You guys think I’m crazy.” The entire class laughed. I knew that telling them about a close relationship with a saint (i.e. a physically dead person) probably didn’t strike them as the most normal thing. But the positive thing is that theology teachers can get away with crazy things and the students just chalk it up to their faith.
“Anyway, I started talking to him again and now he helps me find things all of the time. St. Anthony is great!”
The PowerPoint presentation continued and I put the incident out of my mind. While they are one of my favorite classes they also are often the least productive. The interesting story of St. Anthony was replaced with a frustration that they weren’t working on their assignment but seemed to be talking about everything but theological matters. Yet when that student told me that they didn’t really think I was crazy, the frustration melted away and I had an “I’m glad I’m a teacher” gushing of emotions. Of course, it isn’t the easiest thing to do and sometimes I want to give up, but it does have moments of joy and gratitude.
Some of my sophomores even claim that they wish they were me. I was rather shocked by that statement but then I realized it was induced by my close proximity to their conversation and their combined frustrations over school, tests, and homework. “I wish I was you, Miss ——” Instantly my weekly life flashed before my eyes and I was firmly convinced that if they knew my life, they would be immediately grateful for their own. Late nights grading papers, frantic test-writing, suppers with the parents, euphoria over Friday nights that end in an early bedtime…yes, they would sprint back to their current lives if they knew much more. Their claim that I didn’t have any homework to do was the added cherry to the top. Despite my vehement internal opposition to their claims, I had to laugh at the naivete of my lovely sophomores.
I like my life. It may appear boring or mundane to others. But it has a fair amount of joy and blessings mixed in with the suffering and trials. Too often we are in a state of discontent. I want to just thank the Lord right now for this moment of contentment. For the sunshine outside, the weekend languidly spread before me, the empty classroom that was just occupied by so many beautiful, wandering, searching young souls, the jeans of a dress down day, the love of friends and family, the imminent Sacrifice of the Mass, and the knowledge that someday all of this will end and what will replace it will be infinitely better.