“Forgive a classmate who mistreated me? No, I’ rather not. And no, I don’t even want to able to”. Many times, in these three years of teaching in the schools of Turin, I have found myself in front of this kind of reaction, especially when I spoke with them about the sin of king David, Peter’s betrayal, the prodigal son… For many of the students I have met in the middle school and high school, Christianity is a message that is totally new; in this fact, however, there is also a great opportunity. I recognized this, for example, in front of a banal argument between students that then transformed into something that involved parents and teachers. “The teachers only told me that these things shouldn’t influence the mood of the class”, said a young girl, one of the protagonists of the quarrel, during an interval. “At home, they tell me that it is right that I decide to exclude those who treat me badly. I don’t know what to do. In class, you told us something different, but it seems impossible. You spoke about forgiveness”. I responded inviting her to pay attention to the intuition she had had listening to those stories. “Then let me know how it goes”, I concluded. During our classes an impossible desire was born in her; I only made myself available to accompany her to try and live it. During the following months, I noticed how much this incident turned out to be positive for the whole class. The simple possibility of forgiving the other classmates, even if it was something that everyone felt the need to do, was something that did not cross anyone’s mind. Reacting to the Christian announcement, an ordinary event like this became something extraordinary.
It is beautiful to educate: to propose a prospective that might introduce these kids to a new way of considering all the aspects that pertain to their identity and life. One begins to enjoy staying at school with this aim! And so, besides the field trips of the year, I decided to propose a short retreat for the three classes I taught, simply using what I have learned in the Movement. Prayer, playing together, having various moments of discussion about a certain topic, walking, washing, cooking, having a schedule: thigs that are were said to be “impossible” by many teachers and parents who in the end found themselves enthusiastic. Also in this circumstance, I witnessed the strength of a Christian proposal that is simple and clear. “I had never worked for others before”, one of the most undisciplined boys of the school told me. “The most beautiful thing of these days was setting and clearing the table together. In the end you are happier”, commented another. “It would be beautiful to live like this in class. Father, here it was enough to get behind a proposal”.
Foto Italo Greco – flickr.com