Principal's Blog - 27 March 2020

27 Mar 2020

Dear Members of the Marcellin College Family,

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

The quote above is taken from the last two lines of the Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day. You will recognise the bold type as our theme for the year and in fact it is the National Theme for the Marists for 2020. My goodness, how prophetic it has turned out to be. We are being reminded daily of the preciousness of life and our human vulnerability. But I’d like to suggest that the question posed by Mary Oliver is particularly relevant and hope-filled for us, a Marist community as we navigate the weeks and months ahead.

The poem is a meditation on being in the moment – gazing on one of the smallest of God’s creatures, a grasshopper. And what is noticed? How she is eating, her eyes, how she washes her face and prepares for flight. In that moment, the reader enters a world of contemplation. A place where the simple things become the beautiful things; where the minute becomes the grand and where the delicate rhythm of life becomes sacred. The poem continues:

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention.

We all know how to pay attention, but how often do we? Our ‘normal’ world is full of noise and distractions. We make little time to be attentive to what is happening in the here and now. We can often spend time worrying about the past or trying to calculate the future. Pope Francis has spoken at length about the importance of taking time to reflect and discern as a way to inform our decisions and indeed our lives: “The gift of discernment has become all the more necessary today, since contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good. All of us, but particularly the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend.” (The Call to Holiness in Today’s World, #167)

So, could the next few weeks, in some sense, present an opportunity? There will be the temptation to lose ourselves in Netflix, YouTube and a variety of other online entertainment – and we can certainly be grateful for these distractions if we are lucky enough to have access to them. They will help to take our minds off the avalanche of bad news. And that is a good thing! However, is there also a chance to spend some of our time with no distractions? Some time when we really notice, and be grateful for, the simple yet profound things that we sometimes miss in the busyness of our lives. Things like the people who surround us and support us; the joy of some sunshine on our face; the majesty of a bird in flight; the pleasure felt when we bring a smile to someone’s face. There are so many things to notice if we are attuned to the moment. The poem continues:

(I do know) how to fall down into the grass
how to kneel down in the grass
how to be idle and blessed

As we spend some of our time being ‘idle and blessed’ over the coming weeks, let’s be open for the opportunities to discover a little more about ourselves, our family, friends and neighbours and our God. A God immersed in every minute detail of creation and who walks our journey with us. A God who may well be asking us at this point in our lives:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

John Hickey