School Days, Again…

This entire morning was spent going over the data from last year’s academic year, and the focus of this year’s teaching expectation is the same as the last few years: get the failing students to pass. The school corporation, the school, the administration, and every one of us here are judged according the success of this mandated plan. It is invariable, rigid, unmoving, and it’s a challenge to find ways to be flexible enough to address the issue effectively.

Flexibility is bending without breaking, or even an openness to changing the way we’ve always done things. New circumstances (such as the diminished support of parents for their own students’ academic success) demand a renewed sense of flexibility on the part of teachers–all of whom try to stand in the gap. People with flexible minds are okay with changing course or even abandoning ship when it becomes evident that things just aren’t working the way they envisioned. Because they’re not attached in an unhealthy way to the way they’d hoped things would work out, they are able to take advantage of moments of grace that others simply overlook.

As science has shown us, all of reality is in a constant state of movement and change, so it doesn’t make sense to cling to any static ideas of our life or our spirituality since it is by God’s design that all of it is in flux. In short, we are more in tune with Spirit when we maintain our flexibility. Being in tune with Spirit doesn’t change our external environment, but it can transform the ways in which we interract with it. Rather than becoming locked in a fortress mentality where we can scarcely breathe, we instead trust God to show us evidence of the divine Presence at every juncture–leading to gratitude and joy.

When I was part of the ballet I knew firsthand that physical flexibility depends on maintaining the body through a series of stretching exercises. The same is true of our spirit. At every moment, God is providing us with opportunities for growth and fresh insight; being more flexible in the way we think of God’s grace and becoming more open to the Mystery of God can be helpful and guide us to greater wholeness.

As another academic year begins, maybe all teachers and students can benefit from a commitment to being more flexible this year. Some things are givens in the complex equation of our lives; others are determined solely by our thoughts and beliefs about those givens. Jesus tells us that the Reign of God is very near to children, meaning I think, that the more flexible we are, the more childlike, the greater the possiblity that we will be able to see everything from God’s perspective instead of becoming rigidly locked into ourselves. Certainly, changes will come whether we’re open to them or not, but what a blessing it would be if we could simply decide up front to be supple and bend as the vagaries of our lives require.


About frmichelrcc

I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Wisconsin, did graduate work in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and also at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. I have been a Benedictine since I first professed as an oblate in 1982, making final profession in 2009. I have worked as vocations director in a large diocese in the mid-west and am a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition. I have 3 sons, one of whom is now in God's loving embrace in eternity, and 2 grandsons, Bradley and Jacob.
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