“Miss Rood, why did you leave Rook and come here to Covenant?” Reserved by temperament, when Michael asked a question, the class (and Lily) knew to listen.
“Am I not the one to ask questions here, Michael? It’s my classroom,” Lily said.
“I know, Miss Rood. And I’ll answer your questions about Pip and Joe, and about whether Hamlet was mad or not, and whether I think Hamlet actually loved Ophelia. I was just wondering, that’s all. You ask us all the time how these characters we study—Hamlet and Ophelia, Romeo and Juliet, Pip, Joe, and Miss Havisham—how they all show us truths about ourselves, about our human position, as you say… so I thought I would just ask you to apply those questions to yourself. Does that make sense, Miss Rood?”
“It does, Michael,” Lily said, pausing. “I suppose I came because I felt called, in the sense of vocation. What I mean is that moving here from Rook, coming to Covenant, finding my way here is the way of faith.”
Lily could see her entire first period class listening. Michael led this tiny army of questioning teenagers in discovering their teacher’s motives.
“Do you mean faith in a religious sense, Miss Rood?” Michael continued.
“Michael, you are asking important questions. And I’m not sure that I can answer them sufficiently in this setting. Do you remember how Hamlet’s family, and even his friends, thought he was sometimes mad, or that he was doing things that upset the world’s expectations of a prince?”
“Yes ma’am, I do,” Michael said.
“I suppose my response is somewhat analogous to that. Moving here, leaving my comfort, walking by faith, et cetera, is my duty in faith. A deeper question, Michael, might be in whom or in what is my faith? Put another way, in whom or in what is your faith? That question could be addressed by each of us as thoughtful people, couldn’t it?” Lily said.
Michael paused and looked away for a moment, then looked back at Lily.
“I’m glad you came, Miss Rood.”
“I am, too, Michael,” Lily said. “Now may we reenter Elsinore to see how the play is going to turn out for Claudius and Gertrude?”
Lily’s students opened their paperbacks of Hamlet. As they turned the play’s pages to find the right location for today’s study, Lily looked out through the rectangle of glass in her classroom door. Thomas McDavid was holding a crimson-colored sweatshirt in both hands above his head and mouthing, “I have you a sweatshirt!” In bold letters across the front and back was written: COVENANT.
(To be continued)