Like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, the blog is rising from the depths of obscurity. For my first post back, I want to reflect on an amazing weekend I had recently – the Mount Saint Dominic Academy Kairos 15:04 retreat.
(Adapted from an email I sent to the retreatants, student leaders and adult leadership team)
1 hour after I left the PAC after Homecoming on Sunday, I wanted to write this while this experience was still fresh in my mind, but a few days without “good sleep” and my comfy bed squashed those plans. 24 hours later, I had another perspective and changed my whole reflection. 48 hours later, I rethought things again and came to some “conclusions” that seem pretty clear. So, I wanted to say a few things – that can best be summed up in a “THANK YOU” if you don’t want to read more – but it’s so much more than just that!
A funny thing happened to me on Kairos 15:04: I found a part of me that I can’t even say was missing; I found something I’d maybe never had – a community of friends. My story is out there now; life hasn’t been easy but life isn’t always what we want it to be. To borrow from Eddie Vedder, I’m a lucky man – I can count on both hands the ones I love – but one thing I had always searched for was a place I felt I belonged. Not a place where I had to be something I wasn’t but a place where I could be who I knew I was supposed to be. I felt that this weekend and wanted to share with my “Kairos Moment” which happened on Sunday evening when we returned to campus.
When – among the messages to their friends, families and teachers – the young women recognized ME for having been a part of THEIR weekend (with a standing ovation no less) I was floored. To have my words connect; to have my actions resonate; to have my presence acknowledged by an entire group – with applause, cheers and smiles – was something that connected with me deeply. I can only say this – you may have collectively stood up for me, but there isn’t a ladder tall enough for me to climb or a rooftop high enough for me to stand upon, nor could I clap or shout loudly enough for the world to hear, and know, how special you all are.
To my colleagues, your strength this weekend – to share your experiences with these girls – gave me the strength I needed to tell my story. To the team leaders, your stories and struggles, your challenges and victories (big and small) showed me that everyone truly does have a story, and that story might be something we’ve never heard or it might be something we relate to on a deeply personal level – but the story is what makes us who we are! In the retreatants, whether juniors or seniors, I saw just why this place is what it is – because there are still good kids out there looking for a place where they can be who they were meant to be. The Mount has 200 amazing young women (and a bunch of adults) whose stories weren’t heard this weekend, but I can bet there are a lot of them who wouldn’t mind if we all listened once in a while. If you found yourselves and your courage this weekend, don’t be afraid to show that to others. In the words of Chris Carrabba and Dashboard Confessional,
“there’s still a kid somewhere that needs to hear this: That somebody cares, that somebody knows, who’s tired of bleeding and battered and being torn up…just pick yourself up, it’s time to go” (“We Fight”)
We fight this fight TOGETHER. We fight with and for each other to live our best lives and to be the best versions of ourselves. To claw our way back from the toughest times and to lift others up when their struggles are dragging them down. I came into work after Kairos 15:04 with renewed spirit and focus – on who I am and why I’m here, at the Mount and in this world. I’m here to be unapologetically, imperfectly, authentically ME and to look for the same from everyone in my life. No phonies, no masks, no answers – just ready to ask lots of questions to help me live, learn and grow & to build better relationships with all of you, and everyone here…in the classroom, in the hallways and in everyday life. To help others find what I found this weekend!