I only told them the basics: a man with guns went into a school in Connecticut (you remember where Connecticut is on the map, don’t you?) and shot a bunch of people – some children, some teachers, and the principal. We don’t know why he did it. The families are very sad. We are sad, too. We need to pray for them tonight.
Boy 2 immediately said, “So there’s no more reading to the principal?”
Just a week or two ago, Boy 2 finally got his turn to do what Boy 1 has now done several times – read to the principal. This program is one of my very favorite things about our school here. The principal, who no doubt has plenty to do, takes the time to listen to every single child read at least once a year. Then she gives them a little gift as a token of her thanks. She thanks them for the treat they give to her. I hope she knows that her listening is also a big treat to them.
So anyway, that’s what Boy 2 latched onto, and all I could say was, “No, the children can’t read to that principal anymore. They will get a new principal, but I’m sure they will miss their old one.”
Boy 1 didn’t really say anything, but I knew he had already spoken his words of wisdom back in November. I went to my room and pulled out one of his school assignments that’s destined for my “keep forever” box:
If I was the President I would make a speech and say: “Fighting is the wrong thing to do and it would straighten things out if we would just be a good citizen and not fight. Next, I make a law against being armed with weapons. Because if you had a weapon you didn’t listen to my speech. If you didn’t listen to my speech, I would get angry. Last, I would make kids have less homework. Who likes homework? I don’t. I don’t want to see anyone with a weapon in their hand!I handed him his paper, hugged him tight, and said, “The world needs people like you.”
Once upon a time, some “chief priests and legal experts” got angry because children were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” to Jesus. They said, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus answered, “Yes. Haven’t you ever read, ‘From the mouths of babes and infants you’ve arranged praise for yourself’?” (Matt. 21:15-16, using the Common English Bible)
Do you hear what these children are saying? They don’t know how complicated the world and politics and mental health and all that can be, but they know the truth about what matters. Principals and teachers who care about their students matter. Being a good citizen matters. Stopping violence matters.
I know Jesus hears what they are saying, and I believe their words of concern for this world and those who live in it make his heart swell as much as any praise.
Do you hear what these children are saying?