Last Sunday it was my turn to teach this group of young women. Generally, we draw from lessons from a Church-published teaching manual. These lessons are great overall; I love them because they are sensitive and sound, and also (this is a selfish reason) because they have built-in structure, which is a relief for somebody like me who is not so naturally skilled in the fine art of creating lessons and teaching. Well, the president of our group asked me a couple weeks ago to come up with a different kind of lesson, one that pulled from the most recent General Conference of the Church. Okay, I thought, so now I must freestyle. Only two days' and three night's worth of the inspiring talks of umpteen male and female speakers to choose from--nooo proooblem. I can pull this together in a week . . . an anxious, sleepless week.
But my saving grace was that I'd had a dream a couple weeks prior to this; it was the second of what have turned out to be (so far) three rather personally important teaching dreams I've had this year. As I considered the possible meanings of the dream, I sensed some strong direction and was able to map out what talks I should focus on. Because of the nature of the dream, I was very anxious to prepare as well as I could, and I worked on the material for many hours. I have to say it was so good for me. I really needed to study what I did for that class, and really spend time with the concepts. That's so amazing to me, the way teachers seem to get so much more from their lessons sometimes than anyone else. I'm not sure this was the case in this instance, but I believe it was.
It was the Gomez trio's first Sunday situation with us, their first-ever Church class, and I'm guessing that includes all churches. I had hoped for their attendance, along with the other two wedges, and anticipated my need to address many different levels of understanding and misunderstanding. I went into that hour fasting--you'd better believe it.
If you're at all familiar with so-called Mormon Standard Time and also the way classes occasionally go haywire with announcements and business, you will empathize when I say that when all was said and done it ended up I had very little time to teach this lesson I'd worked so hard on. First, we had to wait for the Gomez girls to all come out the bathroom and stop fussing with their makeup, and then we were inundated with parents and bishopric members, as it was the day when the class presidencies were to be reorganized, which meant time spent in explanation, votes of release and sustaining, followed by the newly-called officers being "set apart" and blessed with the rest of us present to share in the experience. Nobody'd told me this big event was on the docket for the day.
So, yeah. I got a few minutes after all of this to speed-teach. But that's not a complaint; the other business of the day was just as important. It was simply unexpected.
It was an amazing experience to try to teach a lesson about God and his love for us and our relationship to him to this eclectic group. Several things I said left the Gomez girls wide-eyed and stirred them to put down their cell phone and ask questions like: "Does God like the ganstas? Does he like the punks?" "When it rains, is He mad?" And in response to my statement that we have a prophet living today, one shouted out, "Where is he?!" and was anxious to see his picture.
We didn't make it through the whole lesson, which is sad, but I believe we covered what was most needed for that day. Still, I keep turning the thing over in my mind, trying to learn it myself, because it is so basic and so often I lose my connection with the concepts. It's so easy to get swallowed up by the wrong perspective.
I think I'll adapt some chunks of my notes for posting here. If anybody wants to play class with me as I go along, that would be a real pleasure. Here's how it starts, with a sweet hymn:
Earth, with her ten thousand flowers,
Air, with all its beams and showers,
Heaven's infinite expanse,
Sea's resplendent countenance--
All around and all above
Bear this record: God is love.
Sounds among the vales and hills,
In the woods and by the rills,
Of the breeze and of the bird,
By the gentle murmur stirred--
Sacred songs, beneath, above,
Have one chorus: God is love.
All the hopes that sweetly start
From the fountain of the heart,
All the bliss that ever comes
To our earthly human homes,
All the voices from above
Sweetly whisper: God is love.