Now and again, as time seemingly flies by, some peace can be found in imagining God as the teacher of class or the coach on the sideline at St. Louis University High School (St. Louis, MO). At what times would he be young and energetic, old and wise? Would He give his students opportunities to talk more than Himself? In a sense, it is extremely hard to comprehend the works God can perform, but when I picture the scene of Him as a teacher or coach, I see kids overwhelmed with feelings of love shown by means of accompaniment. Pope Francis mentions accompaniment specifically in “Evangelii Gaudium” (Joy of the Gospel), emphasizing that each member of the Catholic community must have a sincere focus on “removing our sandals before the sacred ground of another.”
Numerous opportunities within this life as a teacher presents me with this dynamic challenge to accompany others both as a teacher and a student simultaneously. Even physicists, since the time of the most notable mathematician Isaac Newton, have said that every action is unified by an equal and opposite reaction. Many instances both inside and outside of the classroom make it ever so clear that students notice every action a teacher makes as well as the result. They notice the new haircuts, the days we do not wear ties, the teachers that are singing along to popular songs at a mixer, the five minutes we spend in the hall talking to them about their game the previous night, and our body language that says to them, “You did not do so great on the test I just graded.” While some students tend to be much more focused on their grades rather than the depth of the material, there does seem to be a common concern amongst students and teacher alike. They notice actions that clarify whether or not my care and concern for each of them is rooted in love, whether I am willing to walk in solidarity with them.
Reflecting upon the last three weeks, awe is one emotion to describe the way in which these students have affected me. A feeling of anxiety amongst the boys at the beginning of the year mirrored my own sense of uneasiness. Regardless of how fast or slow the weeks have progressed, the students nurture newcomers, those who believe in their potential and the potential of their classmates. What fascinated me the most is that there are students, for the first few weeks, who do not fit into the mold of what some kids conceive as a typical Jesuit high school guy. After students learn that there is no perfect mold, drastic changes occur such that, three weeks into school, the needs of every man or woman in a Jesuit high school are accounted for. No brother is left behind, and the hope is that it continues to be this way for…well…forever.
May God bless our ears, that we may not only hear, but listen.
May He bless our eyes, that we may not only see, but shed light on the untapped potential in all.
May He bless our feet, that we remove our sandals before the sacred ground of another and accompany each other just as God does with each of us daily.