Talking Point – September 2022

For parents, the month of September brings relief and delight – relief that the children are going back to school, and delight in their learning, growing and blossoming through their education. Whatever their talents, multiple or even sometimes hidden, every child is a gift from God: sometimes a treasure, sometimes a burden. Each child is utterly unique and of infinite value, worth far more than a car or a house or the top prize in the lottery.
According to an ancient myth, when God had created the world, he paused to look at a pool of water. Seeing his own image reflected in the water, He reached out, took the image out of the pool and placed it on the land: the first human being. This is an understanding common to all the world’s major religions: we are created in the image and likeness of God.
We send children to school not just to get them out of the house, and not just to prepare them for the workforce. A biological and genetic account of the conception, birth and development of a child, or any human, is valuable, but not sufficient. We are important to the economy, but more than that. We gain from sport, the arts, the sciences, but more than that. Love your neighbour, do unto others, etc., begins in the home and extends in the school, but more than that.
We are pilgrims in this life. Family life and schooling prepare us, help to equip us for the journey. We learn to think and to love on the way. We have our successes and our failures. We have hurdles to negotiate and mistakes to correct. God knows each one of us. His providence is particular to the individual, and he knows what gifts we have, what love we receive, what love we give out, what sorrows we suffer, what joys delight us.
It may seem to other people, and even to ourselves that, as we grow older, we lose the bright blush of youth, and we begin to age rather than to grow. But beneath the rust, the crust, the scabs, the wrinkles we acquire, there still lies an ‘immortal diamond’, still a pilgrim.
Where will it all end? Where it began – in God.
Monsignor Michael Sharkey, St Michael’s, Sonning Common