Sunday Afternoons

Lent – March

Tackling another Sunday afternoon, I am not sure if I should fold the laundry or do the bills first. I have completed my lesson plans and the school newsletter draft is in its final stages. The pasta sauce is simmering on the stove and I think I just need to water the plants inside and outside…then, relax. Maybe. Whatever happened to Sunday afternoons? When I was a child, those hours between church and dinner were the most creative afternoons of my life. I remember spending hours during my “artist” stage carefully drawing in my sketch book. At other times, I filled journals with little girl dreams. If the weather was nice, my sisters and I would join our neighbors in heated games of marbles or riding bikes to our fort under the lilac bushes down the street. We would glue sequins to crafts, bake oatmeal cookies, read library books. 

I also remember quality time on those days with my parents. Dad might watch football or putter in the yard. I am sure Mom made the sauce and prepared for our dinner, but I remember her taking time to play Monopoly with us or help us to sew clothes for our Barbie dolls. Some Sundays, we would take a family day trip to Washington D.C. After Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, we might go to a Smithsonian museum or grab sub sandwiches and chips for a picnic at one of the parks. To this day, I crave pistachio ice cream – a special treat we enjoyed when we visited the National Zoo. 

This was before we plotted our days via electronic calendars, before our telephones buzzed with reminders and notifications. I miss those Sundays.

Principal’s Ponderings – Scheduling Time for Lent

To some of us who track the liturgical seasons on our Google calendars, Lent often appears as a transparency superimposed over work schedules, sporting events, and academic semesters. We assign colors and notifications that pop up on synched devices. Chimes and banner messages remind us to get to meetings on time, pick up our children, and pay our bills. But not once have I set up an alert to remind myself to get to morning prayer at school or to avoid meat on Friday! The purple of Lent seems to get lost in the orange of a weekend barbecue and the red of weekly meetings and upcoming events. 

Not that He has to, but God has proven to me once again that He has our best interest at heart! During this time of year, the calendar honestly gets so overloaded that I often choose not to look at it, knowing that whatever I must do will eventually cross the threshold of my office. This week, however, it felt like time slowed down – if only during our scheduled daily all-school chapels. And for that, I thank God and I thank the school community.

“Your goal is not always your destination,” our social studies teacher recently shared with the students. As chapel leader, he talked about his own journey and how he eventually landed in his teaching position at St. Augustine. Although he said he is convinced that he is meant to be here, “it was never part of the plan.” His best story was about how nervous he was during the interview process that included teaching a sample lesson in front of students he had never met. He shared “stomach-wrenching” details that do not require further description.

That made me think about my own life and the lives of the teachers and the students who have come together one way or the other to create the family of our school. I am fond of saying that I believe every single person at our school, to include myself, is destined to be here. 

I felt that connection later in the week when we did the Stations of the Cross. As a teacher in a Catholic school for the past many years, the Stations have always been part of the Lenten routine. But for some reason, this year’s reflections seem to have hit a chord with the school and with me personally.

Stations of the Cross – St. Augustine Catholic HS

Using the best in technology, the words are projected on the front wall of the chapel and everyone participates. When I noted to our school’s deacon that the reflections seemed especially relevant, he nodded and said he wrote them. At first, I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. He told me he adapted them, using the more traditional writings as a guide. He did this when the students seemed to be facing some particularly challenging trials. When he shared this with me, I felt blessed in two ways – one that Deacon gave us the gift of this resource and in another way, so thankful that I had been shaken a bit out of my routine and could see the Stations from a new perspective. I think we all felt that way. Here is an example from the seventh station when Jesus fell for the second time. I believe everyone listening to these words during what was the end of a very hectic week, was touched in meaningful way.

“This is the second time you have fallen on the road. As the cross grows heavier and heavier it becomes more difficult to get up. But you continue to struggle and try until you’re up and walking again. You don’t give up. Sometimes things get me down. Others seem to find things easier to do or to learn. Each time I fail, I find it harder to keep trying.  I find myself wanting to just give up, to quit instead of continuing to work to the end.  Sometimes I think I should know more than I do. I become impatient with myself and find it hard to believe in myself when I fail. It is easy to despair over small things, and sometimes I do. Help me when things seem difficult for me. Even when it’s hard, help me get up and keep trying as you did. Help me do my best without comparing myself with others.”

Deacon Andy Corder

 …and help us Lord, to remember that Lent is not a time to “fit into” our schedules, but a reminder of who sets the calendar of our lives. Amen!

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