We're hanging around the table after breakfast, just her and me.
Josefina: "Jesus is powerful!"
Me: "Yes indeed."
Her: "He's like...a wizard!"
Thanks a lot, Gandalf. My little girl thinks Jesus is a wizard. At first that sounds creepy, but of course it has nothing to do with the occult. As far as the imagination is concerned, Middle Earth and Narnia pretty much rule around this house.
She's talking about a "Tolkien wizard" which is a very particular kind of entity.
All our other kids have read the books, and thanks to Peter Jackson, Gandalf is everywhere, on screen, but also on calendars and coloring books and coffee mugs and cereal boxes.
Tolkien's "wizards" play an open role in his imaginative world and its cosmic laws. Their "powers" are part of their "office" within the overall (and mysteriously providential) government of middle earth and its unfolding "history;" they belong to the ordinary structure of Tolkien's imaginary universe. And there's much more that I could say about this, but lets go back to the conversation.
So is Jesus "like" Gandalf? That's a pretty smart question, actually. Imagination and intelligence are working together.
Me: "No, its not the same, honey. The wizards in the story have some powers, but Jesus is God. Jesus can do anything, because He is God. The wizards can't create things, but Jesus is the Creator of everything."
Her: "So Jesus can't die!"
Me: [Hmmmmm....] "Well, God can't die. But God became a man, and He died for us. He died for each one of us, because He loves us; He died and He rose from the dead, so that we could live with Him forever in heaven. Remember there is only one God, but He is three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, like when you make the sign of the cross, three Persons, one God. Jesus is God the Son, and He took our human nature to be with us. Jesus is God and man."
Yes, I really said something like that. Children are not dumb. We have to tell them who Jesus is, because they're already trying to work it out. Experience, imagination, and understanding need to be integrated in everyone's life. It starts in childhood, and the Montessori Catechesis of the Good Shepherd follows an integrated method from the beginning. We started Josefina in CGS when she was not yet 3 years old.
Not long after that, she started asking questions. Once she asked me, "How does Jesus come into you and take your soul outside of your body when you die?" Gosh. I don't remember what I said then. She was 4 years old, maybe.
Sometimes when we finish grace, Josefina keeps her head down and her hands folded. She wants to say some special prayers (and she won't tell anybody what they are). The Lord must love these prayers. Another thing about the Montessori Catechesis: the children learn to pray. They learn the beauty of silence.
But let me return to this conversation. I concluded by saying...
Me: "These are mysteries we believe. We can't understand them."
Her: "Jesus is more powerful than a lion!"
Me: *puzzled* "aaah...yes!"
And we moved on to other things. It was a few minutes before I realized <facepalm> that she was talking about Aslan!