When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers was Miss Starkey. She liked to explain her name by writing it on the board in a way that we would remember easily. She would draw a beautiful star, all shining and bright. Then she would draw a key that was strong enough to open any door. Star ... key!
She told us we were the stars in her universe, which meant her classroom. And she said she had keys that could unlock treasure chests of learning and adventure for us.
She told us that the harder we worked and the better we behaved, the brighter we would shine, and she rewarded us with gold stars in our workbooks. She said that although she didn't know everything about life, she had "thought-keys." These would open us up the way sunlight and rain make blossoms open.
Miss Starkey was a very special person. She was kind. She expected us to work hard, and never allowed talking out of turn. But she smiled a lot and never really got angry. I think she loved us, even though she didn't say it out loud.
She never talked about God. But judging by the way she treated us, and the way she treated other people, I think she must have really loved God. I know that she went to church every Sunday, and that she liked to sing hymns. Sometimes when I came to school early I would hear her singing a hymn quietly to herself in the classroom. It begins, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty ...."
Some of the words she sang in that hymn were different from the ones we sang in my church, but my favorite lines were there, especially "there is none beside Thee,/ Perfect in power, in love and purity."
No, Miss Starkey didn't talk to us about God, but our Sunday School teacher did. We learned, as that hymn says, that there is only one God. And that God is powerful. And that God is filled with love for all of His children.
Our Sunday School teacher explained that God is a watchful Parent who is everywhere and is always with us. God is Father to us, and God is Mother to us. When we are sad, God can help us with the gentleness of a mother. When we are afraid, God can put His strong arms around us like a father.
I found that my schoolwork and my Sunday School lessons went together well. Miss Starkey unlocked the wonders of the world around us, and my Sunday School teacher unlocked the Bible and helped me to understand how Jesus healed people who were sick in many different ways. I found out that I could learn to heal, too. I found that a book called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" explains a lot about God and life. Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote the book, said many things about how to pray the way Jesus did.
At that time I was scared to stand up and talk in front of Miss Starkey's class. I was worried that my grades weren't good enough to please her (which I really wanted to do!), and I was being bothered by some of the older kids - they liked to tease the second graders and push us around.
Eventually I got up courage to talk with my Sunday School teacher about it, and she was really helpful. She suggested I take plenty of time to talk with God. Not tell Him all the details of my problems, but get really close to Him and keep thinking about the calmness and strength that come from Him. She said fear wouldn't stand a chance against God!
And it worked. Not like a magic trick. But slowly and surely. I thought more about God, and I got more confident about speaking in my class. My grades improved. And as my fears went away, the older kids lost interest in pushing me around.
Miss Starkey didn't ever know about this healing. But if she had known, I think she would have given me a gold star - which I would have given to my Sunday School teacher!
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