I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Ripple Effect

Tucked below the Basilica is a replica of the Grotto in Lourdes, France. Visitors and students alike frequent this spot to pray under the gaze of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and to offer up intentions by lighting a candle. And facing away from the Grotto, if you walk up the flower-lined path, are two small lakes, each surrounded by a shaded running/walking path and brimming with wildlife (mostly geese, ducks, and rabbits).

One day, after having dinner off-campus with a friend, I (stupidly) decided to go for a run. (I say stupidly because I was extremely full from the delicious Mediterranean food I had just scarfed down less than an hour prior.) But run -well, it was more of an uncomfortable jog - I did. After covering ground around the perimeter of the campus, I found myself by St. Joseph's Lake. At this point, I decided it would be in my best interest if I slowed to a walk. I came up to a break in the bushes and trees, where I was facing the Holy Cross seminary. I stepped off the path towards the water. Right at the edge, instead of grass or dirt, were pebbles. Without thinking I picked up a pebble and lobbed it into the lake. When it hit, it did what we often visualize pebbles doing: it made a ring of ripples.

I am not sure why this struck me, as I have seen ripples in a pond before, but I think it was because I've had some doubts this summer. With so many things to remember and so much content to pack into our brains, it becomes overwhelming in the sense that, in the face of it all, it makes me feel like I'll never be able to balance everything as a school leader. It's easy to feel like I'm not cut out for this after all.

But then, I saw the ripples from one small pebble. I saw how far they reached, and I thought about all of the people I am able to touch in this program alone. And I know it makes a difference. When we collaborate and learn from one another in class, we all become better at what we do, even if we don't realize any one person's contributions aside from the group as a whole. I thought also about my students and my colleagues - we're all pebbles sending out ripples, affecting the lives (hopefully for the better!) of all we meet and with whom we interact.

As I walked over to the Grotto after my pebble enlightenment, I said a prayer of gratitude to Mary, thanking her for the opportunity to physically remind myself of our roles as Catholic leaders and educators. We don't always realize it, but the ripples are there...

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