As I attended a Seminar on Tuesday on bullying this question came to mind. Being safe and being happy are very important things, and when they are in place there are many, many more gifts we would like our children to enjoy.
Adrienne Jericho, the National Director for Lutheran Schools, expressed it beautifully in a devotional piece he called ROOTS AND WINGS in the March edition of IN FOCUS, his newsletter to Lutheran Teachers. His thoughts are based on Isaiah 40:30-31.
In his book “Striking a balance” Chris Gleeson claims that two important things that parents and teachers can give children are roots and wings.
To give young people strong roots for their lives is to give them values to help them:
· weather the inevitable ups and downs of life
· make decisions
· participate in life in all its fullness
· grow into all that they can be under God.
To give our young people wings is to give them freedom so that they can be:
· themselves living apart from us and functioning as individuals
· people able to act consistently with their values
· people willing to serve and to give
If we give them wings without roots, they will lose their way. If we give them roots without wings, they will go nowhere. A Lutheran school should be a place where parents and the church provide opportunities for students to take roots and find their wings.
Gleeson tells a story from the Indian Jesuit, Father Tony de Mello, about a monk who found a precious gem during his travels. One day a fellow traveller on the road spotted the jewel when the monk opened his bag to share his food with him. When asked, the monk gave the precious jewel over to the fellow traveller happily. The traveller then left, excited with the gift of such a precious gem, which assured him of wealth and security for the rest of his life. However, a few days later he returned to find the monk, gave him back the precious stone and requested him: ‘Please give me something more valuable than this precious gem. Please give me that which enabled you to give it to me’. That is true freedom.
Freed by Christ, with a life firmly established on his values, our students can look forward to a life with purpose, meaning, fulfilment and joy. May our schools give roots and wings so that our students can fly, enjoy life and make a difference to others.
We all walk a fine balance in protecting and in nurturing our children. Parenting is not an easy task. God grant us wisdom in striking the balance.
Neil P. Schiller