Welcome to the first-annual Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club! We’re reading The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living by Lisa Hendey.
By Carol R. Younger
Each chapter’s “grace” is a gift discovered sometimes later rather than earlier in our life relationships and work. As Lisa writes, the “Yes” of the grace grows larger, more intentional as we recognize and practice it—with prayer.
Not many of us would introduce ourselves with “I’m very creative.” Yet, each of us is creative: whether it’s with leftovers becoming a grand dinner for surprise guests, or inventing a game that entertains bored children, or producing a new thing out of old things hanging around in attics. So often, creativity is found in the very ordinary and the daily.
Unlike Lisa, I studied in college not what I loved, but what I knew how to do well: Literature and the English language. My mother says I loved teaching teddy bears when I was small, and so she encouraged me to teach. Teaching seemed a good choice in college, as I couldn’t think of anything else to do with English. I certainly wouldn’t earn much writing books in a garret.
I left teaching when I married and didn’t think too much about it. After all, I hadn’t really chosen it. But it had chosen me. Or perhaps, that grace of creativity, the gift of teaching others to learn and love knowledge was what God placed within. Soon, I found opportunities to teach in the West Indies, then in Washington DC, and then wherever my husband worked. Children came along, and addresses changed, but the teaching continued. And I became adept at keeping kids involved in language and character analysis. Like Lisa, I gave myself to teaching tasks, knowing I was somehow supposed to, dimly aware of God coaxing me, unaware of the grace of creativity.
All along, however, I wondered why was I only “teaching.” You know the old saw: “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” I believed that logical error. I was just a teacher, I told myself, holding a textbook. As culture became sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, I kept at it, trying whatever seemed to interest kids so they would know how important the subject was, even if nobody else thought so, hoping for change in their lives. All the while, I had only the classroom, the books, and my perseverance.
Fifteen years into teaching a letter with no return address arrived telling me I had impacted a young woman’s life when she was a teen in my class. She said I had changed her direction, her sense of self, and she was grateful. She thought I had given her the chance to create a new way of being herself, she said.
I have no idea where that letter is now. But it changed me. A student taught me: about being created anew. Teaching changed; I focused even more on each student encounter. More than textbook, more important than course is the human creativity in relationship. As Don said to Lisa, what you do is …different from who you are. Teaching and learning are creative gifts, one person to another.
To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:
- Try to recall a teacher or a school experience which left an indelible memory within you. Why do you think you remember that particular person or event? When you reflect on it now, what does it contribute to your sense of yourself?
- Is there a daily or frequent activity you have never thought of as creative? (Think: shopping, cooking, dressing the kids, straightening the closets, laundry) Think about it carefully now. How can it become creative as you do it now?
Below, please comment on your thoughts from Chapter 3, your inspirations and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
About the Author:
Carol R. Younger, Ed.D. Formerly a public school teacher, counselor and administrator, Carol teaches at the graduate level in counseling psychology and catechetics. Carol is a Senior Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and has served on the Advisory Board for the Great Adventure Bible Studies. She is the published author of the Retreat Companion (2012) for 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and a contributing author to Created to Relate: God’s Design for Peace and Joy by Kelly Wahlquist (Servant Press, 2015). She has presented at numerous conferences, led Cursillo ministry and conducted pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Europe’s many Catholic shrines. She has three married children, seven grandchildren, and a great granddaughter.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 4: The Grace of Integrity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.
WINE thanks Ave Maria Press for supporting our Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club. Specifically, thank you to Heather Glenn and her team for their marketing expertise.
Order your copy of The Grace of Yes, at St. George’s Books & Gifts. Free shipping on orders of $30 or more, and WINE will receive 10% of your order to support our evangelization efforts.