Reflection offered to faculty and staff at the Opening of School Retreat (Monday, 28 August 2017)
When asked if I would situate the theme of our retreat in a Lasallian context, I readily volunteered. I figure that after 46 years of getting up for school (a greater length of time than many of you have been on this earth) I had better know what gets me going, keeps me going, gives me energy, and enlivens my ministry. You may have heard the story about the person badgered by his mother to get out of bed and go to school with her attempts and his hemming and hawing until finally the mother said: “Wake up, son, it’s time to go to school.” “But why, Mom? I don’t want to go.” “Give me two reasons why you don’t want to go.” “Well, the kids hate me for one and the teachers hate me also.” “Oh that’s no reason not to go to school. Come on now and get ready!” “Give me two reasons why I should go to school!” “Well, for one you are 52 years old. And for the other you are the Principal!”
Hopefully, something more than our position as teacher, counselor, administrator, coach, staff person motivates us to face the school day. For John Baptist de La Salle the forces that motivated him were faith and zeal—and he set these as the Spirit of the Institute, thus our spirit as Lasallians. He considered faith as the gift of seeing all things through the eyes of God, that is, viewing ourselves, our colleagues, our students, our world as good, of worth, lovable. And the consequence of that faith is acting with zeal, with burning love, with passionate dedication. For De La Salle and for us Lasallians, we are inspired by faith in the loving God AND we zealously act upon God’s call to us. To see and to act—faith and zeal!
So upon rising, as I shave, I have prayed for more than 35 years e.e.cummings’ poem “I thank you god.”
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
At 69 years of age I am indeed grateful for another day of life, and the gift of another day comes with the challenge to live the day with ears awake and eyes opened. Ears awake and eyes opened to hear and see God present in all the events of the day—from a colleague’s complaint or request for prayer to a student’s angry outburst or expression of gratitude.
This is what gets me going and keeps me going; this is what gives me energy.
Let me conclude with a short passage sent to me a few months ago by the Brother who was my Assistant Novice Director 52 years ago, now in his late 80’s. It is an excerpt from Making all things new by Ilia Delio: “Get up because you are too old to be asleep, lest you die in your sleep and the world dies of neglect. Grow up because it is time to move on. The world is begging for new and more abundant life. The life of the world is your life, and your life belongs to the whole of life. Stop trying to preserve yourself; lose yourself in something more than yourself because you have the power to christify life, to help unify it, to raise it to a new level….” I hope he sent this to me as an affirmation and not because I can’t get out of bed! This is Lasallian zeal—this is our Lasallian birthright—to lose ourselves in the salvation of young people, just as De La Salle did, because we believe, we have faith that what we do each day does count!
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever.
Brother Frederick C. Mueller, FSC