My summer vacation is nearly over. Now, as an adult, I am aware that most people don’t have a summer vacation, so I’m not looking for sympathy. As the school year draws near, though, I had to attend a virtual 3 day conference on a new program my school is wanting to implement. It was actually a really good conference. You know, to the extent that a conference happening over webcams can be. One of the things I really appreciated from the leaders of the conference, though, was an open awareness of the limitations of the program. Namely, the fact that, without buy in from administrators and a willingness to develop a school wide culture, the impact of any program is going to be drastically limited.
One of the things that has always seemed pretty self-evident to me is that it is way easier to identify problems in a current situation than it is to develop a good solution. In a school environment, this largely leads to a seemingly endless cycle of new programs, each one welcomed with great enthusiasm as a solution to the program before it, and doomed to be replaced by the next one when it’s own imperfections become more clear. The ultimate result of this, it seems, is a very chaotic stagnation where seeds are constantly planted, but then ripped out of the soil before they have a chance to bear any fruit so that new seeds can be planted, most likely to also be removed prematurely.
This same approach isn’t uncommon in any part of human life, even our faith. We recognize an area where we need to grow, and we want to find some all-encompassing cure all. We look for a new church, a new community, or something else entirely. I remember very clearly being a new altar server back in third grade, and our parish was blessed to have a retired bishop from India in residence. I don’t remember what the readings were, and much of his homily escapes me, but a couple lines of it have been burned cleanly into my brain. “We often look in this life for a perfect church, for a perfect community. If you ever find one, by all means, feel free to join it. Just know, that once you are a member, it will no longer be perfect.” Part of our human reality and our journey towards Heaven is living and working in the imperfections of our lives. We have to be willing to enter into the struggles to see what they can teach us. Oddly enough, it is our tendency to run away from suffering and struggle which so often finds us more and more stuck in it.