Time out is not something Head Masters often take but once a year I get a rare chance to spend time with other Jesuit Heads. The venue can vary but this year I was lucky enough to be visiting Copenhagen. ‘Why there?’ you may ask. Well simply because there is only one Jesuit school attached to the British Province. Sitting on my flight heading towards Denmark I have time to reflect on just how wonderful my job really is.
The next few days will bring more opportunity for reflection, quiet, and a chance to review all we are doing away from the relentless busyness of life in school. Jesuits talk of the process and power of discernment; the method of making better decisions in true freedom. Time away from the everyday allows this to take place without interruptions whether planned or accidental. Time out allows all of us to reflect on the wonder of what we have, what God has given us and what more we can give to make our sphere of life more enriching for others. With the upcoming half-term break, I hope you all have the chance to experience some ‘time out’, whatever that may look like.
I cast my mind back to the summer and the glow of our pupils’ exam results which are brought back to mind with the recent publication of the Scottish school education statistics from the Scottish Government. It’s wonderful to be reminded of our amazing 2018 Higher pass result of 98%, a testament to the brilliant pupils and staff we have here at the College. As I peruse the estimated grades for 2019 I can see that the results at every level promise to be fantastic again this year. A moment of pride, of a sense that we are all working well together.
Then my mind turns to what we call, in our Jesuit language, the ‘magis’ (the more, the totality of what we do). I am reminded of the opportunity to share with our S6 in their RE lessons and listen to their vision of hope, of their burning social justice, and their thoughtful contemplation. I’ll miss this today but I know that they’ll be making good use of their time without me! I then think back to sharing night prayer with the 50 or so S6 pupils who slept out to raise awareness of those who sleep rough on the streets of our great city.
Shamefully, we live in a world where men and women are still dispossessed and have nowhere to call home. It’s inspiring that our young people are prepared to make a stand against this and reach out the hand of friendship and love.
This, in turn, encourages me to reflect on our young people and how they compare with my generation. They have so much to give and they give freely. We see their generosity of spirit in the amazing outreach through Arrupe, in the Lourdes pilgrimage, and in the Children’s Fund. Our young people continue to amaze me through their openness and willingness to become the hands and feet of Christ in our world. Like all of us they stumble. Landing into dazzling sunshine in Copenhagen but wrapped up against the cold I continue to reflect on what keeps me springing out of bed each morning, wanting to lead a wonderful school like St Aloysius’; the vision of hope that our young people provide in a world where hope can seem in short supply at times.
Somehow, the world seems a better place knowing that our young people are determined to push for it to be so. I’m glad of the chance to be away and reflect as it reminds me of just how wonderful our young people are and how education is so much more than just that which can be measured by exam results. Jesuit education really is about the ‘more’.