December 11, 2013
As we draw closer to the wondrous day where we celebrate the infinite love of Christ, who took on physical form to share with us the experience of the human condition, it is easy for the holy reality of that phenomenon to get lost in the hectic pace of shopping, scheduling parties, waiting in line at the post office, preparing for guests, and rushing from one Christmas program to the next. Traffic is worse and tempers get short all over town, and the stress can really feel overwhelming. It is helpful to build in periods of calm and quiet so that we can get in tune with that feeling of patiently waiting for God’s presence to touch us deeply, and to remind ourselves, and our children, of what this time of year truly means. In a season that is cold and dark, we join together to share and celebrate love and life.
Just as the hustle and bustle of the season can obscure the higher significance of Christmas, the chaotic business of trying to “educate the minds and form the hearts” of hundreds of children, ages 3-14, can feel stressful and overwhelming. In my dual role of employee and parent, I see both sides of the effort. I know how exhausting and daunting it is to keep up with all of the homework, forms, emails and projects our children bring home. I know how complicated and challenging it is to help them manage their relationships with teachers and peers. Keeping uniforms clean, backpacks organized, and lunches packed or paid for can make it seem like the school work never ends! And for parents, managing our children’s’ education is just a fragment of our responsibilities.
On the school side, I have direct experience of how hard it is to address the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of nearly 300 kids, day in and day out. We all know what it’s like trying to get our kids to do their chores and be nice to their siblings; multiply that by 300 and you've got an arduous task on your hands. Guiding children toward the high expectations we demand requires skill, patience, dedication, persistence and fortitude, not to mention a good sense of humor. The children have to handle all that stress, too, and being in the same room with the same kids for eight hours a day, five days a week, 36 weeks out of the year can lead to some tricky relationships. So what we have is two stressful environments, home and school, that we all have to try and integrate as best we can.
In my first year and a half as part of this community, I have come to know many of you, and I am in awe of the amazing network of parents and families that make up St. Ignatius. I know that we are all dedicated to providing the highest educational experience possible for our children. I am also honored to work with the dedicated professionals that are my colleagues here, and all of us consider our work a sacred calling, not just a job.
My wish for 2014 is that we all work more deeply together to create a culture of kindness and compassion here at St. Ignatius. Too often I see parents and teachers treating one another as adversaries instead of as allies. It would be good to remember that our children model their relationships with each other on what they see in the adult world, both here and at home. Let us strive to embody the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – as we pull together to create a school that doesn’t just educate our children, but teaches all of us – students, teachers, administrators and parents – what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. That child born in Bethlehem so long ago is still with us every day. Let us honor his presence by loving each other as He loves us.