I love being in the third grade.
She’s noticeably younger than the other nuns and she has a smile that almost fills her whole face. I like the way she places the palm of her hand on the top of my head when she greets me in the morning. She doesn’t mind it when I carefully touch the wooden beads and metal links of the rosary that hangs from her slightly defined waist.
People call her, kind. Because they say that about her, I settle in my mind exactly what that word means. I hope people say that about me too, someday.
Sister Irene Mary makes everything memorable, especially on Friday afternoons like this one.
She walks up and down the rows, handing each one of us a box of crayons and a blank sheet of white sketching paper. The crayons in the boxes don’t resemble what you typically find in a Crayola eight-pack. Instead there’s a random assortment of colors. Some have strange names like, magenta, bittersweet, sienna and chartreuse. Whatever colors are in my box, I know no one else has the exact same ones as me.
Sister Irene Mary transforms from homeroom teacher to master-storyteller. We become a room full of enthusiastic illustrators. She reads us a story about Jesus and it’s our assignment to bring him to life with the crayons in our boxes and the papers on our desks.
She reminds us again of the one very important rule: “For this hour, you can’t share your crayons with each other. You can only use what you’ve been given today to color Jesus for the rest of us to see.”
She opens her big thick book and begins to read…
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” ~ Matthew 14:22-33, NKJV
I put the final touches on Jesus’ beard. Today, it’s outlined in dark purple and filled in with red. I evaluate my work and believe his beard provides a fitting contrast to the chaotic blue waves I have swirling around him.
I’ve colored my Jesus strong, confident, and brave. I don’t ever want to be afraid like Peter. I want to be like Jesus. So I’m going to keep my eyes on him.
I’m eager to share my work with the rest of the class. Sister Irene Mary finds something wonderful to say about everyone’s Jesus. It’s my turn. She is over-the-top with praise and everyone in the class applauds super loud and long. I am flushed with delight. They love my Jesus as much as I do!
Before I sit down, my beloved teacher takes my chin, studies my eyes, smiles, and says, “Well done.”
I love being in the third grade. I love Sister Irene Mary.
I love knowing it’s a big deal to take whatever I am given today and use it to color Jesus for others to see.
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ – Matthew 25, 21, NKJV
Living to serve,