It is the last weekend before we welcome staff and students back into our schools on Monday morning. Unfortunately, for some of our staff and students, the Christmas holidays were not necessarily a joyous event. I point this out to remind all of us that we may greet students who exhibit some negative behaviours and may have some staff in our buildings with more frowns and tears than smiles and laughter upon our return. Do what we’ve always been called to do in Holy Spirit- love, support and pray for them!
Our high school students will be busily preparing for Diploma Exams and some of our junior high students will be writing Provincial Achievement Tests in January. I want to wish all of our students the best as they write these exams and express my gratitude to the teachers (both at that grade/course level and those before) for preparing our students so well. I won’t say don’t stress over these exams as I know they are stressful but don’t let that stress consume you and disable your ability to do your very best.
An annual event in January is the future plan meetings I have with every administrator in the division. There has and will likely be more retirement announcements this year and certainly others in the future. It is a big jigsaw puzzle trying to move people into positions where they can continually grow and these conversations are extremely helpful in getting all of the right pieces in place. Part of the reason that these conversations are so helpful is the honesty of our administrators about their future plans. By laying all of the cards on the table, I able to look not just at next year but 3-5 years ahead since the puzzle like sand, is always shifting. While January is committed to our administrators, I’m always open to staff coming in and discussing their own future plans and seeing how I might assist in achieving them.
I want to conclude my January message with a reflection from Fr. Richard Rohr. I subscribe to his daily meditations, but to be fair, most are far too “academic” or “theological” for this dumb old hockey player to comprehend. Today’s reflection however, made good sense to me as we continue to support All students no matter ability, race, creed, culture, nationality, religion, sexual or gender orientation, identity and/or expression. Simply put, we are all created in the image and likeness of God!
Far too much of religion has been about defining where God is and where God isn’t, picking and choosing who and what has God’s image and who and what doesn’t. In reality, it’s not up to us. We have no choice in the matter. All are beloved. Everyone—Catholic and Protestant, Christian and Muslim, black and white, gay and straight, able-bodied and disabled, male and female, Republican and Democrat—all are children of God. We are all members of the Body of Christ, made in God’s image, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, whether or not we are aware of this gift.
Can you see the image of Christ in the least of your brothers and sisters? This is Jesus’ only description of the final judgment (Matthew 25). But some say, “They smell. They’re a nuisance. They’re on welfare. They are a drain on our tax money.” Can we see Christ in all people, even the so-called “nobodies” who can’t or won’t play our game of success? When we can see the image of God where we don’t want to see the image of God, then we see with eyes not our own.
Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all.Once we see God’s image in one place, the circle keeps widening. It doesn’t stop with human beings and enemies and the least of our brothers and sisters. It moves to frogs and pansies and weeds. Everything becomes enchanting with true sight. We cannot not live in the presence of God. We are totally surrounded and infused by God. All we can do is allow, trust, and finally rest in it, which is indeed why we are “saved” by faith—faith that this could be true.
Welcome back, stay warm and have a great month of January!