"Become who you are." John Paul II said this a number of times in a number of ways: once to the world's youth, once to families. Here's another form of the same idea:
"Do not be afraid to be the Saints of the New Millennium, if you become who you are you will set the whole world on fire" (John Paul II World Youth Day 2000)
What does this have to do with Montessori?
It has EVERYTHING to do with how we approach children--as gifts from heaven created by God (not by us!). We need to ask again and again, "Lord, who is this person sent to me? What is he or she created to become?" What a great prayer in the midst of frustration with a child, or in the quiet classroom, before the day has started. My wonderful mentor taught us to consider going down our rosters each morning and praying for each child. With my own 3-year-old I find myself often asking her guardian angel to help me try a new approach when we've reached an impasse, to give me fresh inspiration when I'm at the end of my rope with her.
Why reflect on this today? This is the 20th anniversary of my entrance into the Nashville Dominicans as a postulant. Yes, I'm married now, with 6 children at home, one in heaven. What gives? After two months spent discerning my vocation--time I remember fondly--the novice mistress and I came to the conclusion that I didn't have a vocation to be a sister. What a wonderful experience! After so much searching, I had clearer vision of my calling, of what God made me to be.
And that brings me back to the title of this blog post: Become who you are. Let's remember that our work with children is to help them to become who their creator meant them to be.
I used to play a silly game with my dad where he would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sometimes I'd say a steeple climber and sometimes I'd say an artist or whatever. He'd say, "That's okay. You can be that, then," even though I wasn't really sure if there WAS such a thing as a steeple climber! I was very, very lucky to have a father who was just as interested as I was in what I would become.
This excellent article from yesterday's Daily Princetonian points out that many times, in our rush to help young people reach their potential, we actually squash their hearts' desires. Who are we to try to form our students into our image and likeness?
Let's be receptive to the little people in our lives, in our homes, in our classrooms. May they feel our warm acceptance of each of them as a gift, and may we help them on the long road of discerning who they were created to be.