This morning I was working with one of my 1-1 pupils, and we were reading Michael Morpurgo's Book "The Dancing Bear". MM is a brilliant writer of children's stories [enjoyed by many adults too]. If you don't know about him, check out his website here.
I admire him not just for his writing, but also because he puts his money where his heart is - funding the charity "Farms For City Children"
This is another great story, combining a trad fairy tale with a very contemporary plot-line. It worked really well as a book to read together with this little girl - the narrator is a teacher, and the heroine is a young girl, so she and I have enjoyed comparing our own experiences with the characters in the story. Today we got to the end of the story, and in true Morpurgo style, it was a poignant, bittersweet conclusion.
But at one point in the session, I had one of those precious moments which has stayed with me all day...
The glamorous popstar wants to take the girl away from her village [and her pet bear] because she has a wonderful voice, and he tells her that the world would love her if she only sang to them.[shades of Simon Cowell/Susan Boyle?]
We read this extract
"She smiled nervously at Niki, 'I am not sure' she said ' I live here. I belong here'
'No-one belongs anywhere' said Niki 'and who wants a little place like this, when you can have the whole world...'
I asked my pupil "Do you agree with Niki, that no-one belongs anywhere?" and she replied, straightaway
"No, I don't" "Why not" "because of Jesus"
I was baffled. This child is not from a Christian family, and it seemed a bizarre answer.
"Can you explain?"
"Well, at Christmas, Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, because that is where their family belonged, and Jesus was born there"
This seemed superb logic to me, and we went on to talk about where she felt she belonged [Leicester born and bred!] and places where I felt I had belonged during my life."It is where your home is, Miss, and the people who love you"
And as she went back to her class, I was rejoicing inside, at the truth that wherever I might live I know I belong somewhere, I have an Eternal Home, because of Jesus.
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.