The Teaching Life: Remembering Students (1)

Living into retirement may be simply making me more sensitive to the kind of readings I want to share with you today.  But whatever the reason, I can surely attest to the fact that the great joy of teaching—in fact, I believe the reason for it in the first place—is the students.

In my daily devotions I use A Year With Thomas Merton, among other resources.  Recently, two of his Journal entries have voiced what I believe about teaching.  I want to share them with you today and tomorrow….

On the night watch, hurrying by, I pushed open the door of the novices’ scriptorium and flashed the light over all the empty desks. It was as if the empty room was wholly full of their hearts and their love, as if their goodness had made the place wholly good and rich in love. The loveliness of humanity which God has taken to Himself in love, and the wonder of each individual person among them.  This is of final and eternal significance.  To have been appointed by God to be their father, to have received them from God as my children, to have loved them and been loved by them with such simplicity and sincerity, without nonsense or flattery or sentimentality; this is completely wonderful….(Journal:  November 27, 1961)

Merton taught the novices for a number of years, but his shining his flashlight into the empty classroom and remembering how privileged he was to be their teacher, not only flooded his heart, but mine as well.  And so it is.



About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to The Teaching Life: Remembering Students (1)

  1. I could not agree more, Steve. This is exactly how I feel also. What a great privilege and gift of ministry is the gift of sharing the grace of God in the classroom with students. Your loving ministry over the years lives in the hearts of your students and colleagues around the globe and the love of Christ still flows through their lives to the places where they serve. Our world is a better place because you are faithful in Christ. Thanks for your gift of love and wisdom to all of us.

  2. genesmith12 says:

    You are such a wonderful servant Steven. I continue to be blessed and encouraged from Oboedire. Thank you for all you do for the Kingdom.

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