Schoolyear 3 C.E. Begins (COVID-Era)
There have been fewer blog postings lately from me. The start-up to school takes a wallop out of my time, as well as my ability to think properly. I will have something up at 1P5 probably next week. But even with that, 1P5 has a new editor, and it's clear that our writing styles are worlds apart. It remains to be seen if we can work through it or not. He is a great guy, however, and a stalwart Catholic, so that should help with any tension that may arise.
But back to my main topic. Another schoolyear has begun. Year number three of the Covid-Era. Though it all seems to be melding into one long and disastrous clump of time.
Last year's schoolyear took a heavy toll on myself and other teachers. The stress of regulations, protocol, anxious or angry parents, and frequent student meltdowns was something we'd never experienced before with such high intensity. It took an entire summer, filled with climbing many mountains, before I was able to shake off the year. In talking with other teachers, they also have stated as much. Yet, we're back. And after a week and a half, I seem to be in worse shape than I was at the end of last year. The pressure and burdens seem to have multiplied over the summer. I know other teachers are feeling it. But I think I am feeling it even more. My conscience is screaming at me: "Live not by lies!" Whereas my job is giving a sneering reply: "... and so starve your family..." What a time to be alive.
We have no mask mandate in my school division... so far. I commend the director of education, for I have this peculiar perk about me where I like to, you know, breathe air. However, masks are "highly recommended". In reality, I am the only teacher who doesn't wear one. I am also the only male teacher, only practicing Catholic, and only person who is vocally critical of non-sensical policies. In short, I am alone. Visibly alone. Mentally alone. Thanks be to God, I am not spiritually alone.
We also have no vaccine mandate, though there is daily pressure to have one in place. God forgive me, but I check the news several times a day to see the status of such a potential mandate. It wears me out, and feels like a heavy burden to carry.
We also have something already that we didn't have last year: COVID cases. This adds a mountain of paperwork, protocol, and worry from hordes of people and agencies. It also can mean trying to run two jobs at once (online and in-class). Will we ever go back to regular teaching? Do I want to go back to teaching, period?
All things work together for good to them that love God. This is Our Lord's promise (Romans 8:28). It is difficult to believe at times, especially when you see Afghanistan Christians murdered, Trudeau and Biden mocking God, or regular people fired from work because they follow their well-formed conscience. Add to that the gift of Pope Francis (we have no traditional Latin Mass anymore), and it is a perfect storm. We are beat down in the public. We are beat down at work. We are beat down in our churches. I just want to return to the top of that one mountain I climbed this summer, up in the sub alpine meadows, overlooking a glacier, where serenity is found. And what? Make three tents...? This would be to run from the cross, of course. And there will never be peace without the cross - the great paradox of our faith.
And yet, all things work together for good to them that love God. I think of a line from Wendell Berry's novel, Hannah Coulter. The main character, an old farm wife, muses that one can live without expectation, and do quite well. Day to day life of farm, work, home, family, often bring no grand expectations, but they do provide a blessed normality. The Rule of St. Benedict applies well to the Rule of Family Life. But the main character, Hannah, adds that one cannot live without hope. Maybe day-to-day life is a cross, and there is no expectation of change. But one must remember the cross is the greatest sign of hope.
Where is the hope? Heaven, of course. Yet, is it even possible to get to heaven - for an entire family to get to heaven - without a faithful Mass, without a peaceful day of work, without a moment free from the latest terror which must destroy and enslave? Where is the Church? Where is sanity? Where are people laughing, dancing, and living? Where is hope?
All things work together for good to them that love God. Hope will still remain. I see hope in my children. These crushing times still bring a multitude of laughs, hugs, and joys. Yesterday we went to the church to pray a rosary, it being the feast of Mary's nativity. In runs our 2-year-old boy, straight to the statue of Mary, and shouts out in loving simplicity: "Happy Birthday Mary!!!" I half believe that the statue cracked a smile. I see hope in my faith. Ignoring Francis, I see the rosary, the lives of the saints, the prayers of the breviary and Mass, as wellsprings. I see hope in the Sacraments. They are difficult to come by these days. All the more efficacious they are. I see hope in my wife. Eleven years ago when she looked me in the eyes, in front of family and friends, and told me she would love me all the days of her life... boy did she mean it. And I see hope in the promise that yes, all things will work together for good, if we but remain faithful to God. For even a desperate plea of a teacher is no match for His ocean of love and mercy.
It is back to work for another day. As long as He wishes. And with the firm belief that all things will work together for good.