Where does the time go?
The first two weeks of school have flown by here at John Carroll. It is always so busy … especially the beginning of the year, and the end of the year, and also … around the holidays. We can’t forget exam week in January … Come to think of it: When is it not busy at our schools?
This marks my 32nd year of service to our John Carroll school community. Again: Where does the time go? With the academic calendar, my life has been a never-ending series of starts, middles and endings. Then it is right back to preparing to begin again. Many of the adult faces have remained the same over the years, but the students’ faces change, and mature, then leave, and new ones start. The circle of life so to speak, but in the academic cycle.
As so many people can attest, the most refreshing thing about being involved in education is that each August all of us get a fresh start: from the new notebooks and pens, the new courses and some newly hired teachers, to the new students and their parents. There are new names to learn, new faces to recognize: the reality is that as good as I am with names, it is less easy each year to stay on top of the name game.
New beginnings all around.
It has been especially good to have a new start this particular year because the past six months have been filled with so much sadness. We have lost some wonderful people here at John Carroll—all way too early: Starting last March when we lost dear sophomore Xavia , we have since lost two young grads (Classes of 2010 and 2012), a 17-year old brother, a Mom, a Dad, our retired much-loved school nurse, and numerous other grandparents, relatives and friends. It has been summer filled with grief and mourning for many of us.
Over the past 13 years that I have served as John Carroll Campus Minister, I have been called to walk with families who are in crisis-mode and in need of pastoral care. It is a humbling privilege to be there for families who are going through their darkest days and experiencing worry, fear, grief, sorrow and a flood of other emotions. My students and grads frequently turn to me when they are in need, and even more so, they call and text my cell when they become aware of another student, grad, or family who is in crisis. I am grateful that the students and alums know that I am here for them in good times and in bad. Sometimes I just wish the bad times were not so plentiful ….
This summer my Facebook page went from my postings of inspirational quotes, prayers, and stories of interest, along with musings on the joys of rest and rejuvenation, to being filled with daily prayer requests and updates for our families who were in need. Many families have looked to me to get the word out about their need for prayers and often have had me post illness- and death-updates for the information of their own extended families and friends. It seems that crisis ministry has become my calling within a calling.
Since three of the deaths occurred while I was in Florida this summer I had to continue to find new ways of ministering to the needs of my students and their families from the distance. Creative uses of social media, along with phone calls, texting, and the use of Facetime and instant messaging became my lifelines with these families. Networking with our parish priests and youth ministers across the miles made this long-distance ministry work while I was out of town for five weeks.
And now we are back at school, or away at college or on the job. Life goes on even when we are experiencing sadness and sorrow. For some families though the return to a more-normal schedule of school and work and sports and activities is just what they need to help move the healing of their hearts forward.
So too the opening of the school year here at John Carroll has offered us the opportunity to start anew, to put aside our grief and sorrows and pray for God’s blessings on our school community. And it has been a good start. Praise God.
We have always prayed together as a school community the responsorial: “God is good:” “All the time!!” In good times and in bad, we proclaim these words. It gives you a lot to reflect upon when you acknowledge that God’s goodness never changes in spite of the hardships and struggles that we meet over the years along our faith journey.
That is the main reason why I started this blog: to acknowledge that our loving God is there with us along all the paths that our lives may take and He provides us the grace and strength necessary to get through any difficulty or suffering. Each of us has a unique faith journey. With our eyes focused on the Lord with hope and with trust we can find Him walking the path with us.
The photo banner that accompanies my blog illustrates my title: “God is in the Clouds: Finding God in Life’s Challenges.” I took this photo this summer while at our condo on Singer Island in Florida. In another entry I will share the story of how the title came to be. It is about our pug Daisy.
For today I leave you with a beautiful Prayer for New Beginnings: May each day be a new beginning for those who love our dear Lord. Amen.
God of new beginnings,
we are walking into mystery.
We face the future, not knowing what the days and months will bring us
or how we will respond.
Be love in us as we journey.
May we welcome all who come our way.
Deepen our faith to see all life through your eyes.
Fill us with hope and an abiding trust
that You dwell in us amidst all our joys and sorrows.
Thank You for the treasure of our faith life.
Thank You for the gift of being able
to rise each day with the assurance of
Your walking through the day with us.
God of our past and future, we praise you.
God is Good!! All the Time!!