At this time of the year, when the days are full, classes are being completed, and final preparations are being made to close out the school year, the idea of striving for peacefulness seems out of reach and even comical. Many days feel anything but peaceful. And yet, as we talked about peacefulness in our Monday Chapel, students and teachers alike took a deep breath, perhaps wishing for this important virtue to be present in each of us. In the Benedictine way of living, a model for peace is offered up. There are three steps, and the simplicity of this model can be a goal at any age.
First, be gentle with yourself. Like many people, I can be my own worst critic, and yet I know that self-acceptance is important. I know how hard our students work both in the academic arena as well as in those important extracurricular activities. They strive to do their best. They set very high standards, and they work to achieve their goals. In the process, however, this reminder is given: “be gentle with yourself. ” Perfection is not the goal.
Second, be gentle with others. Pointing fingers, blaming others, and expecting more of others than we would expect of ourselves, do not create peace or leave anyone with a peaceful feeling. An understanding heart, a kind and encouraging word, and gracious affirmation create peace-filled relationships and give the message that “I like you just as you are.”
Finally, the third step in the model for peace is to be gentle with the Earth. We are God’s stewards here, taking care to preserve our corner of the world. The beauty surrounding Tucson, the mountains and canyons, and the occasionally running streams remind us that we are caretakers, and so we strive to leave the world a better place.
At St. Michael’s, throughout the year, we talk at every opportunity about how to be our best selves and model well for others. Though never done with perfection, we strive to be kind, to show tolerance and understanding, to forgive as we are forgiven, to show respect, to love justice–persevering even in the face of challenge–and to handle each other with care. It’s not always easy to do this. Sometimes we make mistakes, but we practice patience because God isn’t finished with us yet. And that’s a good thing. So as we head toward our summer break, be sure to take deep breaths along the way, remembering to be gentle with yourself, with others, and with the Earth. It’s a perfect way to end our school year as we pause for some much-needed summer refreshment.
Head of School