“It’s weird that we’re fascinated by flying rocks in space.”
One of the students let this little nugget of insight slip today as kids were running to the cafeteria, lining up to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. Although Denver only got to see 92% of full coverage, class distractions remained at a full 100% throughout the entire morning. Superstition says that people act crazier during a full moon; well, let’s just say that rule still applies even if a full moon is during the day.
But the student in the hallway marveling at our strange obsession with moving rocks was right. Every student, no matter their preference or dislike for science class, was excited and curious about the eclipse. It was something new, something they’ve never experienced before and therefore exciting. And I was right there along with them, channeling my own inner kid, getting excited and wondering what it would be like when the sun was covered. We shared this excitement, our fascination with each other, even at the detriment of getting classwork done.
As I think about my own fascination today, I reflect upon another recent experience of fascination: my first visit to Arrupe Jesuit High School, all the way back in April.
I landed in Colorado on April 20th (an odd coincidence to say the least), spending the night at the ASC house and preparing to tour the school the next day. I was worried, to say the least. New people, a new location, a new job; these are all things that I tend to find uncomfortable and challenging. But when I started touring the school the next morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling of fascination that overwhelmed me.
I observed students chatting happily in the hallways during passing period and lunch. I shook hands with some sophomores who introduced themselves to me. I watched as Ms. Alvey discussed dress code with a senior missing his tie. I listened as teachers sternly reminded their students to pay attention to class. I even saw the principal collecting student paraphernalia that had been confiscated during the day. But in every moment, I also saw a deep rooted love for each student, wanting the good for them at all times. All day, I was channeling my inner Owen Wilson, repeating “wow” over and over again in my head.
Simply put, I was fascinated by everything Arrupe was. I was fascinated by its students, the body of the school. I was fascinated by the teachers and faculty, the lifelines that helped and taught the students how to succeed. I was fascinated by the Corporate Work Study Program, which sustained the school through the hard work of the students. And most of all, I was fascinated by the apparent love that permeated every part of the school, the very spirit that brought life to the school as a whole.
And in many ways, that day was a sort of eclipse for myself. I saw what I’d call Arrupe’s corona, a brief glimpse of the blindingly bright love the school offers, the fringes of the opportunities that lie within. But thankfully, this total eclipse of the heart won’t just last for 2 minutes, and everything will be back to normal within an hour. No, the eclipse of my fascination of Arrupe has just begun. And I can’t wait as the students and I traverse this year, watching this eclipse slowly expose more and more of what Arrupe can truly be.