During mass last Tuesday at which our teachers began their school year with a retreat, I preached about hope and the teaching profession, indeed the hope of every parish which nurtures a school and its children. I used excerpts from two poems and in response to requests for the citations, I repeat them here:
Tomorrow's Child by Rubin Alves is a complex and beautiful poem. The last stanza reminds us that operating a school is not a business, but a vocation, and those who teach in them, administer them or send children to the best schools, do so at a high cost. As one educator has said, we need to focus not only on "test taking" but "meaning making" for our students.
...Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret discipline…
It is a struggled commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined love is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.
Dreamy Goat by the Persian mystic poet Rumi, reminds us that even as we improve the academic and spiritual standards of our school, we must be sure to protect the "dreamy goats" in our midst.
You've seen a herd of goats
going down to the water.
The lame and dreamy goat
brings up the rear.
There are worried faces about that one,
but now they're laughing,
because look, as they return,
that goat is leading!
There are many different kinds of knowing.
The lame goat's kind is a branch
that traces back to the roots of presence.
Learn from the lame goat,
and lead the herd home.