Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,
Sometimes in moments of difficulty and challenge, the light of inspiration can shine on us and change the whole complexion of our view of the world. For me this week, that light took the form of a reflection provided by the great Whitefriars man, Neal Crossan, at our weekly Leadership Team meeting.
The reflection comes from the spiritual writer Joyce Rupp, inspired by American Theologian, Thomas Merton. Joyce’s focus is on one of Merton’s journal notations. Merton writes that we are always thinking that our life will be truly happy “when”. We are never satisfied with our life because we have it in our heads that we won’t be happy until something else occurs.
When I have one more thing I want
When I can have life the way I have always dreamed it would be
When I am truly successful
When this pandemic end
When when when
Rupp writes that waiting for the when keeps me from appreciating what I have now. Longing for something is not harmful as long as the present moment is not overlooked, as long as gratitude arises from what is already here.
For the rest of the week, I decided I would put aside my When this happens and my If only this could be and my When things get better. In the words of Rupp said farewell to my “when” and be thankful for what is. A pretty tough ask especially during this time.
Can I tell you in doing so, I discovered many examples of people doing just that at Whitefriars.
The week started with Trent Collins, providing upbeat music as our boys wondered down the driveway to begin their day. I watched and heard about many zoom classes where teachers are developing creative and thoughtful ways of bringing joy to zoom classes like Tracey Langer’s Year 7 music class. Recognising how difficult it is to teach remotely to boys, whom she has not met and who hardly knew each other, Tracey asked the boys to introduce their unusual menagerie of pets to the class. Then they sang together, participated in a fun kahoot and laughed a lot. I know that is just one example of the many creative opportunities our staff are finding to lift the boy’s spirits (and their own) in the Home Learning Program.
Last week too, our Pastoral Care team put on the first of a series of House lunches for our Year 12 students. The act of sharing a simple meal together, suitably distanced of course, was a powerful opportunity for the boys to show solidarity and support for each other and their pastoral teachers.
On Friday, Nicole Ross and the Soreth Leaders, House Captain Jack Gurrie and House Vice-Captain Matt Leeson, presented an innovative way of celebrating their House Feast Day. This took the form of a “House Zoom” hosted by Jack and Matt. The celebration provided an opportunity to pray together, to recognise the efforts and achievements of the House as a whole, as well as individual student accomplishments. The students then participated in a “General knowledge Soreth Kahoot” and a trick shot video competition.
On Friday, Jo Menzies and our passionate and committed Sustainability and Environment Group led by Max Tyler and Tom Fazackerley, supported by Scott Firmin, reminded us all of our responsibility to support our fragile environment, through our celebration of National Tree Planting Day. It was great for all of us to get our hands dirty as we planted indigenous native plants in the garden outside the Science and Technology centre.
On Wednesday morning, I attended our weekly liturgy. What a gift this weekly reflective opportunity is for all in the Whitefriars community. For me, it provides an opportunity to stop, to breath and to receive a bit of spiritual nourishment surrounded by other members of our community. Last week we were blessed to be led in prayer by our Liturgy Captain and Vice-Captain, Luke Harford and Zane O’Neill. These fine young gentlemen of Whitefriars, led us through a reflection, where we were challenged to reflect on the struggles and challenges of life and our relationship with God. They reminded us that sometimes, we struggle and wrestle with God, with faith, with life and other times we Dance with God. Most of the time, I think it is both at once.
All of these examples, have been a gift to our community this past week. Each one has, for the briefest of moments, assisted us in forgetting about the masks, the isolation, the sadness and the anxiety and lifted us into a place of light and joy. To shift our focus from the “when” and be thankful for what is. To Dance with God amidst the struggles of life.
I leave you with some words from the American Author on all things spiritual, Donald Miller.
Take care of yourselves and each other.
Mr Mark Murphy
“Life is a dance toward God, I began to think. And the dance is not so graceful as we might want. While we glide and swing out practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. So, we learn to dance with the One who made us. And it is a difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign.”
― Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road