I don't think he really knew what he was doing.
He was trying to teach us about history. He would stand up on his desk. He would wave his arms to get our attention. He would project his voice to pierce our bubbles. He made history exciting for us.
I had never had a teacher like him.
He didn't give lectures. He created experiences in learning.
He opened doors to my mind that I did not know existed.
I think that's what good teachers do best - they open doors. Rarely do they keep track of how many doors they've opened. It's enough for one student to step through the doorway, and into a new understanding of life.
Sometimes a teacher opens a thousand doors before one student steps through. But the joy of one student who steps through makes all the difference in the world.
A teacher does not know how any child's life will ultimately play out, but a teacher knows that a door cannot be opened unless someone reaches out to open it.
It is in this moment that a teacher becomes a reacher.
As God's people, we are all teachers. We are also learners. We are cut from the same cloth as Jesus' disciple, Thomas, whom Jesus invited to reach out and touch the wounds in his hands and side, and to understand.
We, like Thomas, are reachers. The greatest teacher the world has ever known summons us to reach.
We are also like Jesus' early followers in that we are told "we will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon [us]; and [we] will be [his] witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
It doesn't matter how many doors we ultimately open for others to walk through, or how far we might travel to do so. The only door that matters is the door right in front of us. The only door that matters is the door we must open. Sometimes a life hangs in the balance until we open a door.
My history teacher thought he was teaching us how to love history. In truth, he was teaching us about how to be better people.
That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes you have no idea what you are doing. You think you are doing something, but it happens you are doing something more.
So it is when you donate the gift of your time and presence or the gift of your financial resources or the gift of your skills and passion. You think you are paying the light bill or the pastor's salary or keeping the heat on. You figure you are fixing a roof or painting a building.
You are more likely raising up children in a life-giving relationship with Jesus, or helping the poorest of the poor realize their God-given potential, or standing up for a heroine addict, or holding the hand of a dying woman.
You think you are sending a check to Holy Cross. But really, you are just being the hands and feet of Jesus, reaching the world with a message that powerfully transforms lives for the better.
You are making Jesus real for people who would otherwise not know him. You really are.
Now you know what you are doing. Thank you in advance for doing it.