A couple days ago I was subbing for an art class. I have a passion and heart for teenagers and thus have only substituted for middle and high school teachers. But this art class happened to contain, smack-dab in the middle of the day, a room full of a dozen delighted-inquisitive first graders.
They raced in excited to see a new face and immediately I found myself laughing and attempting to contain the joy these little ones brought to my soul. Their eyes were wide, all their mouths were talking – telling of their adventures from the day, and most were bouncing up and down in their seats. I started the class talking about owls and wisdom, only to find myself silently giggling at how quickly the way I spoke turned “kiddo.” After a moment of asking questions about owls and where real wisdom comes from (Jesus), we passed out construction paper and began drawing owls.
I am not an artist. I enjoy graphic design but to put pencil to paper and come up with more than a stick figure is difficult to do. But I was dauntless, for surely, if these first graders could draw owls (and we each had a step by step handout to follow), so could I. I taped my black construction paper to the easel and walked them through each step. After each one, most would hold their drawings up and say “Isn’t it awesome!” “Do you like mine?” “Do you mean like this?” “I’m already three steps ahead Mr. Johnson.” I found myself clapping, cheering, and telling each of them specific comments about their owls and how good they were doing (most far better than mine). We finished early and so they drew stars and a moon for the night sky, others drew more owls, and a few scribbled notes on the back for their mommies.
It was during this “free time” of drawing that I was struck by the simplicity, honesty, and excitement each of them had for the little things. Everything became a delight and an adventure to partake in. I came to school that day expecting teenagers but found in the middle a bubbly bunch of first graders who lived with expectation and eagerness, having sword fights in a corner, and debating the concept of the Trinity.* Oh to live as a first grader!
*While drawing, several of the students began to debate whether Jesus was God or not. Some didn’t think so, while others began to mention the Trinity and how God was made up of Father, Son, and Spirit. I couldn’t help but stand back and smile.