The third quarter has arrived in full force. Students are tired. Teachers are tired. The extended lack of sunlight seems to have taken its toll. Christmas break feels like forever ago and spring break is too far away. In the midst of all this, I feel that the honeymoon phase of my first year of teaching has worn off. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes easy to look at my ASC life as an extended to-do list: lesson planning, teaching class, grading reflection papers, helping with freshman service, leading retreats, working SLUH’s pool hall, going to community night, and writing blogs for this website. Each day can become perfunctory if I’m not careful. And though it’s nice to know that I’ve found a routine and feel comfortable, I don’t want to live this way.
This past Monday, the Church celebrated the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. The Gospel of Luke recounts Joseph and Mary’s ritual purification and sacrifice forty days after the birth of Jesus. While at the temple, they encounter an old man named Simeon, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and proclaims him as the Christ, the savior of the world. In his homily on Monday, Fr. Burshek, SJ, reflected on Simeon’s insights into the identity of Jesus. While everyone else in the Temple simply saw a poor, ordinary Galilean couple and their firstborn son, Simeon recognized God Incarnate. Within the ordinary events of the day, Simeon witnessed the extraordinary.
And I think that’s the same call I have right now. I don’t want to fall into a routine and miss the extraordinary that is happening all around me. So at first glance, my to-do list seems long. But how lucky am I to be involved in all those things? I have the opportunity every day to try to plan something fun and educational for my students. I get to talk about faith with almost fifty freshman boys every day. I have the honor of reading their reflections and thoughts about what is truly important. I help freshman cook meals for homeless women twice a week. I am witness to walls being broken down on Kairos. I play pool with students almost every day. I go to mass and have dinner with the Jesuits once a week. And I get to share my reflections with the people who read this blog (thanks mom!). These everyday happenings are anything but ordinary. My prayer today is that we all might have a greater sense of the extraordinary all around us.