Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Any Questions?

The other day I saw my old Sunday school teacher, Mr. M. I see him quite regularly whenever I return to my hometown and each time I am reminded of being my son's age when I was in his CCD class. The wonderful thing about the man is that each time we would come to our weekly class he'd say, "I'll answer whatever questions you may have". And each time he made that offer, I had a new question for him. As he'd promised, he'd answer me (and others who had questions) as openly as he could.

I remember once asking him, "Do dogs go to Heaven when they die?" He responded with a sensitive discussion but one which I completely tuned out because the bottom line of his answer was that animals do not have souls and thus cannot go to Heaven. I remember giving his words a lot of thought but ultimately coming to the conclusion that he is WRONG. To this day I believe that Heaven would not be Heaven for me and countless others unless dogs (and other animals) are there too. And that's that.

Another time I told him about how I'd seen this television movie which put a man in a horrifying situation of being forced to select one of his fellow captives to die. If he did not select one person, the bad guys would kill multiple people. I knew that to participate in a murder is a sin and yet I was puzzled by what the man's options were. That was the day that my Sunday school teacher talked to me about the "lesser of two evils". It is a conversation that has actually helped me in several situations over the past 30 years, although thankfully, none have been as extreme as in that television movie.

Each time I see my Sunday school teacher I smile. I completely respect the man for being so forthright with us children and for inviting us to ask him questions about our faith, church, morality. He wholeheartedly embraced our curiosity and inquisitiveness and did his best to be there for us. It is a practice that I adopt when teaching and in raising my own three children. Although I have to admit that repeatedly being asked questions by a nosy busybody with an agenda is obnoxious, with most people's inquiries I have never been intimidated, however difficult, complicated, or sensitive. I may not always have all the answers but I do my best to respond to questions as honestly as I can. And when I do not know an answer, I invite my children or my teenage students to find other resources where we can discover the answer or explore possible responses at the very least. Simply put, I open the door for any and all questions and I do my best to help find answers, because sometimes, it just helps to be allowed to ask questions, to get them out of their heads and into the open.

I still have questions. Many are about the past or the future, questions that, truthfully, are probably best left alone. Today is all we have, after all. Still, sometimes I think to myself, "If only I could sit down with Mr. M today and get his take on this".

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