Today my level 3 children began work on the first typology timeline: Creation.
No, we do not introduce creation at level 1. It is too abstract - and too easy to focus on the cutesy and fluffy; not so easy to focus on the meat that is actually there. Do we expect that the children have some knowledge of creation when they come into the atrium? Yes. Because it can fit at home; but it just does not have a place in the atrium until level 2 and then only to identify the moment, its place in the Bible and explore it as a history of gifts.
NOW we read it. We meditate on it. We analyze it. We make it our own. How does it apply to MY life?
As I greeted the children, I invited them to the prayer table with a Bible and to silently re-read the First Account of Creation as a way of review.
Once I ascertained that everyone who was coming had already arrived, we reviewed what we knew from that First Account. I intended to hit on the concept that there was a history before the first verse of Genesis, but I just now remembered that I left it out. That's ok - because it will come in at a more appropriate moment when we begin the account of Sin.
We reviewed the presence of the Holy Trinity at the dawn of creation; how God created with His Word and how is Jesus but the Word made flesh? These are concepts that for some of the children they are thinking, "Ah. Ok. Whatever." But as I noted to our parent assistant this morning and even to the children themselves at the end of class --- this work is not about getting it all into your heads and you just accepting it. You will pick up on the connections as you go about your daily lives, as you hear familiar phrases in the liturgy - and someday it will all have meaning for them, even if not right now. I told them that in the atrium we don't just dump things in because some adult thinks they should know it; rather we look at their lives and consider "what will be most meaningful?" To the parent I presented the analogy of the seed - we are planting seeds and at the right time, when their minds and hearts are ready, the seed will already be waiting.
We followed our review with a textual meditation on the Second Account of Creation. We noted the differences; we learned Hebrew words for man/woman and Adam/earth (this is when we had a visitor come in: our parish priest blessed our atrium - a perfect timing as we had also just touched on God's blessing of the earth and fertility). We then continued with some contemplation on those trees. What is the knowledge of good and evil but the knowledge of *everything*. And ended with "how many rules did God give us?"
- Be fertile and multiply.
- Subdue the earth and have dominion over it.
- Do not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Some of the children in this group are studying more information on Hammurabi's code - over 300 laws - talk about complicated! Then God gave us just 10 Commandments - simpler, but still more than the original 3 rules! Only later, when we are covering Moses and the giving of the 10 Commandments, as we lead back into the maxims (we introduce these each week to a few children) - will we make the connection on our timeline, that now Jesus has given us JUST ONE RULE: Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
Only then will they truly be able to contemplate the great depth of this commandment. Because at that time, they will have studied creation, sin, the flood, Abraham and finally Moses.
Just one golden thread we could follow through these typological studies - there are many more!
- Creation: God created us in His image.
- Sin: We chose to turn away from God.
- Flood: God re-creates and starts again. He gave us everything; He gave us everything again - and it wasn't enough, because He later gave the gift of Himself.
- Abraham: He calls a particular people to be His light in the world. He calls each of us to be a light in the world.
- Moses: He gave us His name. In many cultures, knowing a person's name gives power over that person.
- Therefore, when we love God with our whole hearts, we DO love ourselves AND our neighbors, because each of us is made in the image of God.
After our Scriptural meditation, I invited the children to a very quiet work period. I then called the children in small groups to begin work on the timeline. We focused on the account of creation only at this point, placing the pictures and the words, working together to read the noted Scripture passages and answer the questions. I then left them with the last two questions on the second large card: What have I learned about God? What have I learned about us humans?
When God will be all in all.
While I gave them a choice this time of working on these questions in their prayer journals or re-creating the timeline, I will start working with small groups on making a timeline in the near future. This is a new concept for 2/3 of the class and the 1/3 who have some familiarity have never studied typology - nor have they seen the entire timeline yet. SO. I think it is ok to not enforce the creation of a personal timeline YET.
As we finish up this first timeline, I am certain that someone will want to re-create the entire strip -- and then we will have inspiration for the other children.
Next week, we will work on the rest of the timeline in small groups and I will likely start the meditation on sin at the end of class for the 5th and 6th graders. The 4th graders will rest with creation and start on the Mass materials in the following weeks.
Oh. and Prophets are coming soon!
I am too excited about all of this work ;)