a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
(As spring blooms in the Northern Hemisphere, this readers’ favorite from our Teaching as a Gift series seems appropriate. May you be the Spring that lightens your students’ darkness!)
A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this.” Then Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke…
“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.”
It is easy to equate “those in the darkness” with “those in the shadow of death.” Darkness=Death and Light=Life. Dark and death are bad. Light and life are good. So, we quake at the darkness when it comes near. Or we pretend that it doesn’t come near, or that it is easily overcome if we will only read enough Scripture or sing enough songs about light and life.
We glorify light as the presence of Yahweh and abhor the darkness as His absence. It is so much nicer to walk in the light as He is in the light. And we desire that not only for ourselves but for our students as well.
In the darkness we should remember that before the light of the star, the light of Immanuel, even before the precursory light of John, a deep and reverential fear settled, and the people talked of nothing but God and the plan of his hand. Those people alive in darkness.
Why is it that some of the best conversations with Yahweh are at twilight without turning any lights on? Why do Christmas Eve services in the dark seem so holy? The darkness is quiet, calm, restful, mysterious, expectant.
I was in an exercise class where the instructor led us into a difficult posture. We held it, and held it, and then she said, “When you feel like you’ve had enough, stay with it for two more full slow breaths. That’s where the magic happens.” This is good advice in a deep stretch, and in darkness.
Darkness is an awkward and cumbersome load. We are quick to counter that there is relief in the Master Teacher. And there is, there is, hallelujah. There’s Presence even when we’re ready to squirm, even when we’re chilled by the darkness hovering around our students’ hearts, minds, and circumstances.
How can we teachers lighten the darkness? Job, a man who knows something of darkness and the presence of Yahweh, said:
People listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them…I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down. I chose their way and sat as chief, and I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners.
Like Job, we can illumine our students’ darkness with:
The light of a blessing. A colleague committed Aaron’s blessing to memory and just in case, typed it into her phone. Now she has it, to drop upon students when an encounter calls for it. When it doesn’t, or before we’re brave enough, this blessing is not a bad silent prayer.
The light of a smile. I passed my supervisor in the hall one day after class. I smiled broadly at her and meant it. “你很精神” “You are very spirited,” she complimented. It is simple and profound to share spirit through a smile.
The light of leadership. A teacher can illumine a whole room with even wavering light, but often the work of igniting students happens one by one and one to the next by showing the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.