The word “travel” comes from the same root as the word “travail,” which means “effort, toil, exertion, labor, struggle, hard work.” We normally think of a trip as an exciting event, a getaway, something fun. Then we are shocked when things go awry. In truth, we should expect a bit of struggle whenever we travel, especially when we travel abroad.

The ultimate symbol of this in our Judeo-Christian tradition is the Exodus. The people of Israel are – exultantly freed from slavery and bondage in Egypt and they dance merrily into the desert. Their joy is short lived. They complain, they grumble, they whine, they moan, they (…fill in the blank). They are the children in the backseat of the station wagon who wail: When are we going to get there! I’m hungry! How much longer! I gotta go to the bathroom!

Every trip I have ever had, no matter how wonderful, always had more than a bit of pain connected with it. My recent trip to North Carolina was no exception. It was a long drive, despite good friends who made the miles go by. We hit some rain, torrential rain that made the going treacherous and slow. And our accommodations had the absolute smallest shower I ever had to navigate. (How is that for a first world problem? Insert winky face)

But here is the amazing thing about travel. When the people of Israel looked back at their journey in the desert, when they remembered the Travails of Sinai, they looked back on them FONDLY.  Yep, you read that right, FONDLY. Far from being a wretched memory, their time in the desert was looked upon as lifechanging, profound, and spiritually enriching. In my life, I can remember almost every trip I took with family, friends or by myself. They are snapshot memories in my life. From family vacations to Poplar Bluff, MO (exotic, I know), to golf trips to Ireland and Scotland, to a month spent in India, to a powerful pilgrimage to Israel and Rome, each sojourn deepened and expanded my life. Even the struggles (two flat tires in Georgia, illness in Houston and Mexico, the chaos of Mexico City’s airport after the World Cup, a forty-eight hour journey back from India, a missed flight to Scotland) are good memories, primarily because I survived and lived to tell the tale. Each travail made me stronger, more resilient, more trusting in God, better prepared for life in general. Now when things don’t go the way they should, now when things get difficult, now when the plan has to be altered, I can go with the flow (usually because I have little choice to do otherwise) and survive.

If you have already taken a trip this summer, review it with your family or your friends. See if you have learned any lessons. If you are still planning to go, safe journeys, be careful and be open to what you can learn along the way.

A Few Good Men and Women Needed

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago when I shared the results from All Things New with the parish, we need some help with our PSR program. We need teachers for our 7th, 6th, and 5th grade classes. We looked into joining forces with MQP in this, but the numbers didn’t quite work out.

There is no nobler job in all of Christianity than a PSR teacher.  The ones that I know have been amazing. Our current PSR faculty is outstanding. If you have never taught before, you are lucky because you will not have any preconceived notions about either education or your students. And that is not necessarily a bad place to be. Beyond that, you have a pastor with 35 years of educational background with young people. That sounds arrogant and prideful (and it probably is), but I can help you develop classroom management techniques and skills.

Middle schoolers can be a challenge, but they can also be a lot of fun. They are young people on the brink of discovery, the edge of growth. They are curious, questioning, and, at times, a bit defiant. In other words, they are prime candidates for learning. The difference between a salesperson and a teacher is that a salesperson wants you to agree with them, whereas a teacher, a real teacher, hopes for disagreement. That is where the real learning begins. When I was in the classroom I hated it when students would just meekly take notes and would never challenge things. I knew that wasn’t the case, but they were too concerned about getting a grade. My favorite students were those who disagreed, who challenged the Church’s teaching, who questioned everything. I always asked them to do it fairly and not just argue for argument’s sake. That’s when real learning took place. I knew I got my point across when they would end the discussion with: You always have to be right. When that phrase was tossed out there, I knew I had touched a brain cell. The best part of being an educator is running into a former student years later and have them admit that they did learn in my classroom.

So do you have what it takes to join our team?  Are you willing to help our young people grow into the people that God sees in them? Will you help fashion the future? Please contact me and we can discuss this further.

As I said, there is no nobler calling in all of Christianity.

Father Kevin

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