A Place of Holy Mystery

Theme for March: Vastness

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

“They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery…” –Luke 7: 16-17

            A few days ago, reading this sentence in the gospel of Luke, I immediately thought of my classroom back in the many years when I was teaching young adults. It might seem odd to think of a small classroom in a quiet, unassuming school in southeastern Connecticut as being “a place of holy mystery”. After all, it was a rather commonplace classroom – no different, really, than the thousands of other classrooms in the country. Kids came and went, talking and yawning and trying their best to stay focused, and not thinking much, I’m sure, about miracles and holy mysteries. For me, though, my little room at 89 Barnes Road was truly a remarkable place, for I knew that miraculous things happened there. In this room, forty-two students and one teacher had their lives transformed each and every day, not because of especially good teaching, but just because that’s the nature of this amazing process called “learning”. When people come together to share ideas, lives are changed. It’s the law. It always happens. I once calculated that approximately 500,000 thoughts occurred to my students and me in my classroom on a typical school day. Think of it – all those thoughts swirling together in my room, mingling and sharing and transforming! It was like a magic potion of ideas, and not one of us could avoid being changed by it. Even if we were not especially tuned into what was happening on a given day, we couldn’t help being transformed, at least somewhat, by the blending and stirring of ideas in my classroom. How did it happen? Why did it happen? I really have no idea. I planned my lessons and worked as hard as I could to be a good teacher, but I must honestly say I still have no clue as to how this miracle called learning happens. I guess that’s what made my classroom – and any classroom – “a place of holy mystery”.

He can't stop the dawn, he knows - 
can't stop a sky from coming open once again
with light and with a looser kind of life.
He looks, and there's the dark and lots of fears
and loneliness, and then before too long
sunlight begins to let itself come in
through doorways in the dark 
and dawn is there again, and giving him the gift he loves,
another day of light, and pleasant ways to live. 
And nothing stops the dawn, and that's
the mystery and beauty of it, 
that disease or fear or terrorists can't stop
the dawn from doing what it does. 
He knows there's a sort of dawn inside him, too,
a light that always comes again when fear,
like darkness, fades away, and hopefulness
is shining optimistically again,
like morning after all the darkest nights.
It can't be stopped, these faithful dawns. 
He knows.

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