Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,
Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you’re going. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.
The above words are taken from one of my favourite prayers, A Creed to Live By. I have been reflecting on these lines over the past couple of weeks. Sometimes in life we are so busy looking forward to what is next that we don’t take a moment to look back and reflect on how far we have come. I was reminded of this idea last week when our College welcomed the Class of 1970 to Whitefriars. These men were supposed to celebrate their 50th anniversary of graduation from Whitefriars last year but like many things from that time, it had to wait. Some of these men had not been back to Whitefriars since the day of their last Year 12 examination, although many had maintained strong connections with each other and the College. They all shared the same curiosity as to how much the College had changed and therefore, were keen to take a tour of our wonderful school.
As we wandered the corridors and classrooms there were moments of recognition and remembrance. Stories were told about moments of mischief and moments of enlightenment, of laughter and learning and relationships. What was particularly clear was the pride these men had in their school and the strength of relationships they had with each other. Even though some had not seen each other for many years, it was as if time had melted away and they were school mates again.
As we continued to travel the halls, these Whitefriars boys from long ago, marvelled at the opportunities afforded to the Whitefriars boys of today. The breadth of subjects, the variety of pathways and diversity of learning styles and pedagogical practice they witnessed, made them all envious of the young men who occupy the Whitefriars classrooms of 2021.
What was most enjoyable to witness was the interactions between these former students and the current crop of Whitefriars boys. As they came into the various classrooms, the Class of 1970 were greeted by enthusiastic and eager students who were proud and excited to show these men what they were up to. A tour which was supposed to take 45 minutes extended beyond an hour and a half as these two generations of Whitefriars boys interacted with each other and shared their collective experience of school, both walking away richer for the experience.
It is as important to reflect on the past as it is to look forward to the future, as important as it is to stop and take time in reflection as it is to move to the next phase. The question is, where do we find this time? Busyness seems to be the new normal which can provide a convenient excuse for not being people of reflection. But there are moments… The car ride home, when instead of listening to the news of the day, we reflect on the news of our own day and take stock. The kitchen table at teatime where we can listen to each other, learn from each other, and encourage each other. An early morning walk where we can breathe in the stillness and quite of the dawn. These are the gifted moments when we can reflect and review and maybe even contemplate and pray.
We are blessed here at Whitefriars to have the Carmelites who are models of Contemplation. For the Carmelites this is a time for cultivating a deep respect of our own uniqueness, to listen carefully to what God is saying in my life, to be open and attentive to the wonders of creation and to be welcoming of the transformation that God brings about in each person’s life.
That’s obviously a lot to take on board. Perhaps it is a good idea to start small. Just to find those little moments of silence in an otherwise noise filled life is enough to start with.