Devotion in Motion: Seeing eye to eye

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”    Matthew 6:22

By Bro. John L. Cash

Teaching school during the time of COVID is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s a record-keeping nightmare. I have more than 170 students on my roll book. Thirty-five of them chose distance learning. I’ve never laid eyes on most of those students, although we do have good conversations via Google Classroom. Something I’ve noticed about teaching distance-students is that I’m a morning person and my students are night owls. When I get up at 4:40a.m., some of them have just finished their “school day” of completing English lessons.

The remainder of my students are divided in to an A Group and a B Group. The A Group comes to school on Monday and Thursday. The B Group comes to school on Tuesday and Friday. On Wednesdays, everybody tries to get caught up.

I teach for 6 periods a day, so that means my classes are divided up into 12 sections — not counting the distance learners. Quite often my students change from one section to another, OR they change from distance to hybrid. Keeping track of all these students is like being a cowboy on a trail drive, leading a herd of cattle from Texas to California. The only difference is that instead of cattle, it’s more like a herd of cats!

Adding to the confusion of bookkeeping, keep in mind that the in-person kids are all wearing masks. It’s like lecturing to an auditorium full of bank robbers. Every day, I make a big deal out of checking roll, going over it thoroughly and methodically, and conversing with each student. When everyone is wearing a mask, you have to be sure to authenticate.

In spite of the difficulties, there are some advantages. The classrooms are quieter this year. I guess it’s just impossible to whisper to your classmates during a lecture when you’re wearing a mask. All of us teachers are trying to make the best of it. We believe it’s our job to do our best at playing the hand we’ve been dealt.

And I think I’m making better value judgments this year. In our society, so much stock is put on the beauty of faces. That doesn’t make it right, but we all know that’s the way it is. This year, I can’t see my students’ faces. I spend my days looking at only their eyes.

The Lord Jesus said that the eye is the lamp to the body. Others have said the eye is the window to the soul. I now see that you can learn a lot from the light of understanding that shines out of a person’s eyes.

I’m glad we’re all forced to wear masks for awhile. Maybe we’ll look at others differently — seeing their hearts instead of their faces. After all, isn’t this the way the Lord looks at us every day?

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 ½ years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s currently on a sabbatical from the preaching ministry, and is an English teacher at the Choctaw Tribal School. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the Preacher had a day off from school for “American Indian Day” holiday on Friday.) You can send him a note at