Sunday, August 24, 2014

Friday Nights Lights and Being Grateful

Student assembly address:

Friday night was a great night for our school. First, congratulations to our football team for their 59-34 win against Stratford. The 59 points were the most points ever scored by a JPII football team in our school’s history, so it was a heck of a start to the season. In the decisive second quarter, we scored 35 points, all touchdowns from "Q" behind really magnificent blocking from our offensive line and a defense that completely shut down Stratford in the quarter. Great game, fellas.

But Friday night was great for more reasons than that. Y’all were great. Our cheerleaders, our dance team, our blue man group, our pep band (with just two weeks of practice)—all of you guys made the evening a great celebration of spirit for our school.

My congratulations also to the House of Gregory for their ALS Icebucket Challenge. I and nine other teachers were doused with ice water to raise money for ALS research at halftime. And before I say anything else, I understand that once you take the challenge you can challenge someone else, so I am calling out Mr. Mila, who was on the football field on Friday as a spectator, laughing at us. Mr. Mila, you’re challenged.  Next Monday assembly—in front of the students—man up.

And in case you didn’t know, another JPII athletic team had a great weekend, too. Congratulations to our Lady Knights volleyball team for winning SEVEN matches this weekend in rout to coming in first place in the tournament at White County.  SEVEN matches in two days is a lot of volleyball—congratulations, girls!

Let’s keep that spirit going this fall—keep coming to the ball games, for sure. But let’s keep that spirit going, too, in terms of kindness to others, reaching out to people that look like they need a friend, supporting the teacher’s efforts in the classroom,  striving to be the best students we can be, challenging ourselves to stretch, dig down and study hard.

On my way to Nashville from Montgomery to be interviewed for this job almost seven years ago, I stopped at a gas station to fill up. A late model car pulled up on the other side of the pump, and an old man got out of the car, looked at me with some embarrassment, and asked me for $10 for gas. I told him when I went in to pay for mine, I’d put $10 down on his pump. Casting his eyes downward, he said with some feeling: “Gratitude”.

Since I had little else to do as I drove home, I thought quite a bit about this fellow for the rest of the trip. Judging from his car, his clothes and his diction, he didn’t appear to have a job, or a good one at least, and his language suggested he wasn’t very well educated. His sad eyes conveyed loneliness, and I wondered if he had a family, or was close to them if he did, and guessed he may not have been. Few things are more humiliating than asking for a handout, but he was out of gas and so he had to swallow his pride to ask a stranger. And yet, despite all that, I sensed his gratitude was real.

To be honest, his gratitude was unsettling to me, for it forced me to compare myself to him, and in so doing, made me wonder if I who had so much in comparison was as grateful as he with so little. And that’s not a bad thought for all of us—as we come can cheer at ballgames, as we wake up each day and come to this magnificent school, with great teachers, good friends, and fun things to do—are we grateful for all this?

I don’t know why some people are given so much and others so little. But for we who have been given much, much is expected. Let us, at minimum, be grateful each day for all God has done for us-- for JPII, for our friends, our family, our talents and abilities. And for Friday night home victories—Go Knights!

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