“Your head has to be where your feet are.” That was a favorite line of the first football coach I ever worked for. He would explain to the players, when practice is difficult it is easy to let your mind wander to the evening when practice will be over or to the weekend when you’ll be hanging out with friends. To let that happen, he would admonish them, is cheating your teammate who depends on you to do your best job. Coach would tell us assistant coaches the same thing, often when we were working late on practice schedules and game plans, that we owed it to the players and to our colleagues to be focused on the tasks at hand. When I was a young teacher and coach I rolled my eyes at how often he would repeat this phrase. However, twenty years later, it is easy to find the wisdom in such a simple message. He was talking about football, but like so many lessons we can learn from sports and other hobbies, this message translates very well to everyday life.
When both parents work in a school and your four children are between the ages of 2 months and 9 years, a new school year brings a lot of excitement and…chaos. Having worked in a school for almost all of my adult life, I tend to think of the start of the school year as the time to reflect on life and make new resolutions. This year I resolved to be more joyful and to focus more on enjoying the present. One of the remarkable things about humans is that we can plan for the future and even make sacrifices in the present to improve our future. However, an obsession with the future can cause us to lose sight of the blessings that are before us each day. While I know this and have tried to focus on these daily blessings, it is easy to get lost in the craziness of the day-to-day. It is also easy to fall into the trap of longing for a time when life will slow down. Maybe we await the day when our children are just a little bit older and will not need so much of our time. Or maybe we look forward to our next promotion which will make financial stability a little easier to obtain and thus afford us more time for the things we enjoy. It is easy to let our minds wander to a (likely mythical) future when life will not be so hectic.
Last Sunday I was at our parish’s 5:00 pm Sunday Mass with our oldest three girls. The three and five-year-olds were having quite a time dancing and making each other laugh, and I was about to pull my hair out trying to get them to sit quietly. After Mass, I found myself lamenting how much time I spent focused on their behavior and how little time I spent praying. As we were about to leave, an older lady approached me with tears in her eyes. She said to me, “I want you to know that I love seeing you at Mass with your girls. My father had five girls and he took us to Mass every Sunday. They might not know it now, but they will cherish this time with you their entire life. One day they’ll give anything to go to Mass with you one more time.” For someone who usually tries to remain stoic, I teared up and told her that her words were a great blessing for me. Reflecting on her words on my car ride home, I was amazed at the blessings God gives us, sometimes in the words of a stranger.
Let us all enjoy the here and now. For all of life’s craziness, there are great blessings before us every day. God is so generous with His grace. Let us resolve to embrace those daily blessings and to, of course, be where our feet are.
I look forward to a great school year with you and your children.
AUTHOR: Jay Boren, Headmaster