Sunday, September 26, 2010

A different side

If I haven't said it around here, I absolutely love my job. Sure, I get tired of grading papers, and I hate having to discipline my students when they act out. But the benefits far outweigh these little drawbacks. In the classroom I love watching the look on their faces when I hand back a test with a big purple "A" at the top (yeah, I check papers in purple instead of red... it's prettier) and I love watching the kid who really struggled with a new concept one day lean over and explain it to his friend who was absent. On the soccer field, I get absolutely giddy when one of my players masters a new trick or when I watch my whole team huddle up to celebrate a remarkable goal. My job is so full of rewarding moments that fill me with joy!

But I think the best moments are those quiet moments, when I'm not teaching them a new idea in class or maybe during a water break at practice. I love those moments when I get to interact with my students on a totally different level. I love getting to do other activities with them.

This week I had one of those opportunities. Our school participates in a citywide program called the "Joseph of Arimathea Society." Students who participate in this organization are called out of school a few times each year. We travel with the students all the way to the other side of town to a little area that the city has given over for the purposes of burying the poor, the homeless, the indigent. The boys in our little organization go when called to attend the burial and offer prayers for someone who otherwise might have no one at their funeral. We tell the students that no one comes into this world alone and no one should leave this world alone, either.

On Wednesday, I took a group of four students to bury a man, Buddy Carter, who died alone on the streets. They had never met him and knew nothing about him except that he was homeless. And yet they showed up. Our boys were called on to offer a little prayer service for Mr. Carter and then to transport him to his place of final rest and these four souls stepped up and offered to go. These are the same students that I have had in class who tease each other mercilessly, who tell crude jokes and who pretend to sleep through our school masses. And there they were standing at the grave, one with tears glistening in his eyes, another who gently, reverently reached out a hand to touch the coffin as we walked away to leave, and yet another offering spontaneous prayer asking God to accept Mr. Carter into eternal life.

I love these moments with the boys when I get to see them step out of their comfort zones, when they do something that is totally outside of themselves and entirely for someone else. I love getting to witness their conversion of heart, no matter how small it might be. I am so proud to say that I teach these boys, not math or soccer, but how to be men of character and people of faith.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting for fall

As I was walking back to my living group last night, I was awe struck by the orange moon! It was so full and bright! It lit up the night sky! It made me stop and take time to ponder God and all the beauty of creation!

Officially we are now into fall, however, the temperature's tell a different story! Fall is my favorite season/time of the year! The leaves on the trees become these bright, vibrant colors. The temperature's cool off, harvest time begins. I've never been big on Halloween though.

For me, fall has another meaning as well. It's a time of transition/change. Last year at this time I was entering the monastery in fall, and completely changing my life as I had known it! So when the leaves were falling off the trees, I was falling away from my old life, into a new life here. I see the trees bare and taking root into the ground to prepare for winter. I was taking root in the ground of this monastic community.

This year I will also embrace more change as fall aproaches. I am now a Novice. I have entered into another step into my formation. I have become more deeply rooted in this way of life. I continue to learn so much day by day from my studies as well as from the sisters in this community! I am truley blessed!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Becoming an electrician

My school has chosen to be a pilot school for Science kits. These Science kits come with everything you need to teach a part of your Science curriculum. My first kit is on Magnetism and Electricity. It is great fun. I feel though like I have to become an electrician to understand all of the terms involved. I spent one whole evening cutting and stripping wire to get things ready. The great thing is that the students do things hands on and learn and have fun at the same time. My classroom is loud and noisy but I know that they are learning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting Ready!

In about two weeks, I will be making my perpetual profession of vows with this monastic community. (I call it final vows or just profession for short.) I don't know what planning a big wedding is like, but I am guessing the past year has been something like it!

Granted, I don't have to find a wedding photographer or decide on a cake design or spend thousands of dollars on a dress, but I did design an invitation, ask a sister to video the ritual, and choose a meal for the main celebration. I spent several long meetings with my formation director and the monastery liturgist planning the mass and other liturgies around the event. I've scoped out readers and candle carriers and Eucharistic ministers and hostesses and musicians. I had my finger measured for a ring. I spent some time last week staring at my closet trying to decide which black or white top I might wear with my nicer black skirt. Presently I'm tracking down RSVPs from friends and family who may or may not be able to come. I've reported to the powers that be who will need room and board in the guest quarters. For fun, I'm working on developing a recital to sing that evening. Have I forgotten anything?

In all this, I'm trying to remain cognizant of what this is all about. Last month I went to the wedding of a friend. It was a very simple, small wedding, with friends and family helping put things together. My friend told me, "You know, the food, the celebration, the music- that's all nice and good. What's important, though, is the sacrament. That's the main thing." Though religious profession may not be one of the seven official sacraments of the Church, it's pretty much akin to them, and it's just as serious. The main thing here is that I'm going to promise to give my whole life to God and this community, in stability, obedience, and fidelity to the monastic way of life. That's the important part. Please pray for me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cleaning Up

I can't believe how quickly time flies. Already it's the middle of September.

I was thinking today how confusing human behavior is. We are strange creatures, don't you think. Since I'm around kids all day, their behavior really amuses me and leaves me perplexed. For instance, it would be safe to say that the majority of kids do not like cleaning their room. However, if I went outside on a nice day during recess and said, "I need help cleaning the music room," I bet I'd have kids leaving games with the score tied and bases loaded. Kids would stop mid jump rope swing to race up the steps. They'd all fight over the vacuum cleaner.

Part of the lure may be the chance to play the instruments as they're cleaning. Part of it may be just doing something different and getting to help out doing things you don't normally get to do. Part of it may be the possibility of missing part of their next class. Who knows.

During choir practice, I let the kids bring in a snack to enjoy after school and before choir begins. I have a hard time choosing who gets to sweep up afterwards since they all want to do it. Recently, one student wanted to do it. I was expecting her to sweep only the area we were in, and I thought it would only take her a few minutes at the most. (I should have known better when it comes to kids. Things rarely go as you think they would.) About 20 minutes into practice, another student tells me that she is still out there sweeping. I didn't expect such a thorough job in every little nook and cranny.

I'm thinking of this story because I have choir practice again today after school. I wonder how many students will want to sweep and help me with all the behind the scenes stuff of setting and cleaning up. I venture to guess that the number will be far greater than those who respond voluntarily to cleaning their rooms or helping out at home.