Counting to Ten
By Joe B. Bayless of Independence, MO, USA
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” -John 20:19-21NRSV
I was substitute teaching in the first-grade classroom at Sycamore Hills Elementary School. The “sub” is given a roster of student names to take roll. As I counted them in a soft voice, in German, a boy heard me and asked what I was saying. I told him I was counting in German, that I had lived in that country for over 20 years and my two daughters were born there.
When I finished, a boy raised his hand and said he could count in Portuguese. I thought, “Sure you can.” But I said, “Let me hear you.” Then the entire class counted to 10 in Portuguese! A little girl then said she could count in French. I was again skeptical, but less so, so I said, “Let me hear you.” The entire class counted to 10 in French! Then a boy said he could count in Chinese! By then I was a believer so I directed the entire class to count in Chinese. A little boy told me he could count in Spanish, so they all counted to 10 in Spanish. That first grade class could count to 10 in six different languages! I then said rather dramatically, “Here is a big question: Can anyone in this class count to 10 in English?” They laughed, then counted. I was amazed.
But the experience got even better. I was in the midst of an emerging Zionic community. When I passed out the first assignment, a boy immediately got up to sit next to the Chinese boy. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “He has only been here two weeks, and I help him with his work.” Another boy sat next to a student who had recently arrived from Guatemala. A girl sat next to a shy Haitian girl who was new that semester. Students helped others all day.
What a day! This came at a time when I was distressed and concerned about the attitudes of some leaders in my country, especially toward foreigners. I was reminded of Doctrine and Covenants163:3c:
There are subtle, yet powerful, influences in the world, some even claiming to represent Christ, that seek to divide people and nations to accomplish their destructive aims. That which seeks to harden one human heart against another by constructing walls of fear and prejudice is not of God.
There is hope. There are also powerful forces at work to tear down walls and lift people up. And that battle has already been won.
I dwell in your presence.
Prayer of Examen
Spend a few moments recalling your day. Let details, events, and conversations drift through your memory. Offer gratitude for the day and pray to be aware of how God was present. What did you notice or feel that brought meaning? Pay attention to moments when you felt least in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Offer a prayer of confession. Pay attention to moments when you felt most in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Pray to be even more aware of and responsive to God’s presence in the days ahead. Amen.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.