Consolation . . . In Stepping Away

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A familiar adage speaks to the paradox of time’s relationship to responsibility, that the more we occupy our time, the easier it is to be responsible for the duties filling our schedules. Jesuit high schools, as any student of one can attest, have mastered the art of filling schedules with classes, lessons, and other co-curricular responsibilities.

Winter has slogged on this year, as it does. I don’t know what we did to anger Punxsutawney Phil this year, but his promise of six more weeks of winter stretched to eight, and then to nine, and despite glimpses of fine weather in Kansas City this week, threatens to give us a tenth bonus week of that damp and complacent season of gray. And with this collective trudge through an endless February that has made a Groundhog’s Day scenario out of a Leap Day that wasn’t there in 2018, even life at Rockhurst High School (Kansas City, MO) hasn’t been as fresh as usual. The temptation to grow complacent as schedules feel less heavy is real.

And so to have the opportunity to retreat and to reflect on the beauty of human relationship and connectivity has been a needed and refreshing blessing this winter. As an ASC, I had the opportunity to attend two Kairos retreats with juniors at Rockhurst High School this year, and we’ve shared three of our four full-cohort retreats already, with the fourth one in Breckenridge quickly approaching. In college, I grew complacent with retreats, using a busy schedule to find excuse after excuse not to retreat. So when my schedule grew simpler in this year of service—though by no means empty—these retreats gave me a natural way to claim responsibility for my free time.

Going into ASC, I knew that this transition from a busy schedule to a more focused one would require an adjustment. Between coaching and teaching, that adjustment was easy, because students and players demand free time that you rejoice in sharing with them. But as winter tested me through Lent and into Easter, a string of retreats offered a chance to fight the complacency that festered by giving me people to rely on and listen to. Thanks to ASC, I found consolation in stepping away to fill that empty time with God, others, and self.

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