It is the last week of the first quarter at Arrupe Jesuit High School (Denver, CO). I have served as an ASC volunteer here for more than two months. In that time, I have grown comfortable in my role and in my responsibilities. The anxieties of the first few weeks are forgotten. I know what my job is, and I do it. I no longer worry about remembering students names; I just know them. My relationships in the community have grown from coworkers to companions to friends. I am adjusted, and life has become routine.
And while routine brings comfort, it also breeds monotony. What once felt new and exciting can now feel grey and taxing. Some mornings, it is hard to find the energy to get up and do it again. Teaching requires you to be on, 100% on, every day, because your bad day means a bad day for dozens of kids. Especially at Arrupe Jesuit, our kids don’t need another bad day; they need a safe place, a positive place, where they can open themselves to the love and security that is otherwise absent in their lives. The pressure to live up to this expectation, which the kids so clearly deserve, can be intimidating. In the long commute across the street, a despondent exhale is often all I can muster before opening the doors to the school.
“Morning Mister!” “Hiii Mister…” “What was our homework, Mister?” Morning greetings squeak as I walk through the door, always followed by the hilarious and endearing Arrupe Jesuit title of Mister, just Mister, no last name necessary. My face melts into a smile in spite of itself, and my heart follows. From there, everything else falls into place. They are the reason we are here. The only reason we need. They are the joy; and sometimes, joy is enough.