Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Nine Others

Student assembly address:

The reading this Sunday at Church was about the ten lepers who were cured by Jesus, but only one person came back to say “thanks.” The other nine simply went about their lives. There’s a pretty strong challenge in there for you and I whom have been given so much. 

It’s easy, though, isn’t it, to take it for granted?

In the spring of 2008, I was hired by the Board to become headmaster of JPII.  Previous to that I was a principal in Montgomery, AL, about a five-hour drive from here. As part of the series of interviews, I had to come up here three different times, and after I was hired, the Board wanted me to come to two separate events to meet people. Spring is a busy time for schools, and I remember the fifth time as I was driving up, I had a hundred things going on at my old school, and I remember being stressed and irritated that I had to come yet again with the work piling up. Our house wasn’t sold yet, I hadn’t spent much time with my daughter who was a senior that year and going to college in the fall, and yes, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I stopped off to get some gas—I think it was in Franklin—when an old beat up looking man drove up to the gas pump in a beat up pick-up truck and said to me “Hey, fella, I’m out of money, could you spare ten bucks to help me with some gas?” Suspicious he was really out just to get money for alcohol, I said, “When I go in and pay, I’ll put ten dollars on your pump.”  So I did. When I came out, the man looked toward me, embarrassed, head down, and said “Gratitude.”

As I drove off, I began thinking about what the old guy said, “Gratitude,” and being a bit unnerved by it, almost like God was talking to me directly. Here you are, God was saying, with a wonderful wife, four great kids, just hired to be the leader of one of the best Catholic high schools in the country and you’re feeling sorry for myself? How about taking a step back and seeing the big picture? How about some gratitude?

I think that’s a challenge for all of us. We’ve been given so many extraordinary things, beginning with our families, but extending to our friends, our teachers, our school, the fact that our families have a little money that allow us to enjoy good things--and yet, it’s so easy to start feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s so easy for that green-eyed monster, jealousy, to seep into how we see the world--jealous of people who are prettier, wealthier, more personable, more popular, even luckier, than us

Fr. Thomas said in Church yesterday there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who wake up every morning and said, “Good morning, God!” and those who say, “Good God, morning.” Let us be the kind of people who are grateful to be here at JPII, grateful to be a student here, to be a teacher here, to be on staff here, to be a principal here.  There are too many people that are “woe is me” mopers in this world,  and they suck joy out of all the people they associate with, almost like the dementors from Harry Potter. Let’s be the opposite!

Let us be people of gratitude who can say, as one person once prayed, “God, for all that has been in my life, thank you. For all that will be, yes!”

1 comment:

Christian LeBlanc said...

A great story, and a good tactic to keep charity from subsiding bad stuff.