I am Christine Henke Mueller, (MA Teaching, Cardinal Stritch University, BA Religious Studies, Mount Mary University) and have been teaching since 1987. I began teaching as a Peace Corps volunteer (Kenya 1987-1989) and, upon my return to the States, in a private Catholic high school. Since 2005, I have been a primary school classroom teacher in a small independent grade school. I have many things about which I wonder.
Do you ever wonder about the lives of other people? Not in a voyeuristic sort of way, or a “keeping up with the Joneses” obsessive way, but in a storybook kind of way. The times when you meet someone new only to find that you lived three-doors-down from them for ten years--how much have we missed of each other in our disconnect--and I wonder at the missed opportunity, the serendipity, the fortune. To look into the lit-up windows of strangers’ homes on darkened nights and wonder who they are, what they love, why they do what they do. I used to do that all the time as a child--and still do, truth be told. This sense of sonder brings me to create and sustain relationships with those in my classroom and in my community.
It is this view from the outside that attracted me to Martin Buber’s Ich und Du so many years ago--and it is this that has shaped my worldview. A friend gave me this book and I have spent decades trying to understand and live its purpose. It is what drew me originally to begin teaching theology. We spend so much of our lives looking in through windows trying to identify and classify--when really what should consume us is achieving that relationship with others in which labels dissolve and relationship occurs.
Teaching is the invitation to do just this. To look into the windows of lives, to go then, together, through joy and all the other bits that come along. It is the storybook that never ends, whose characters grow up with you and create stories of their own. It is both poetry and possibility. Encounter and experience create opportunities for transformation if we allow ourselves to enter into each other’s lives in this absolute way.
Every window, to me, is a story to be told. Each door a possibility to open. All we have to do is pass the threshold together--to accept each other unconditionally, and see each student, each person, as You--no longer alienated but in relation to all we do. This is why I teach--this is why I try to be--this is what I want. It is redemption; it is salvation--a chance to recognize the You in the entire world.