A while back they asked me to teach Sunday school to the middle schoolers at church. I must say that as an old scoundrel I was a bit intimidated to be responsible for the fresh minds of these children. Though I had a couple of tikes myself, they were my charges to mess up, not someone else’s.
I decided to observe the other two teachers first. Chuck played games with them. They were excited and had fun. By the time they left for “big church” they were exuberant. I couldn’t help but joke after they left,
“Those parents are going to love you, my friend.”
He was a good teacher.
The next Sunday Lou was teaching. I was prepared for another round of exuberance. Lou was already sitting, books in his lap talking with a couple of the children. I noticed he spoke to them just like you would to an adult.
“So what’s new in your world this week, Mary?”
“How’s your Mother doing, Jack?”
When all the children were semi-seated yet chattering and bouncing around like kids will do, Lou stated firmly,
“Alright, let’s all sit and get ready for the lesson.”
Expecting some resistance I looked around to play Master-at-Arms as is my general way but they settled and with just a little poking and wiggling began to gaze at him.
Lou opened the bible and Sunday school guide and for thirty minutes or so he engaged in a conversation of lecture and questions and small asides with an attentive group of adolescents.
It was amazing that it was the same group of children from the week before. As they departed, Lou would pat one on the back or touch them lightly on the head. When the room was empty, except for him and I, all I could say was,
“Well done, Lou … well done.”
We shook hands and walked together toward the sanctuary. He told me he had been teaching for a while and it was all just second nature anymore. I couldn’t help but think of St. Francis though … sitting calmly in the garden among the birds and small animals as they sat on his shoulder or fed from his hand.
I know that sounds a bit dramatic but that’s what came to mind as Lou and I walked down the stairs.
The children had come to play and had stayed to learn. They left to return to their loved ones having grown in the words of Our Lord and Savior with calm and grace and dignity. Lou gave them that. He gave the children that for decades.
Now he had given it to me.
When I saw your picture in the paper this morning, Lou I had to walk away and cry a little. You touched me that way. You touched many that way.
You have and will always be there when I try to teach the youth.