While I know that the year is not yet over, I just need to share how incredibly blessed the 2017-18 school year has been at The Way of the Shepherd. We began a new adventure this year, doubling our staff and significantly adding to the children in our care. The decision to expand our school’s capacity to serve a greater number of families and children was made with much prayer and discernment and yet such a big choice is always accompanied by at least a bit of “fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)! But how richly God has blessed us this year, “packed together, shaken down, and overflowing” (Luke 6:38). We have struggled, at times, as a school, to find teaching staff who fit well into our community and have hearts formed by the Montessori Method, seeing the child with eyes of hope and faith in who God has created them to be. But this year, when adding a significant number of staff members, each and every one has such a deep commitment to loving and caring for the child and children in their care. And the children have responded so beautifully to such love! There is a peace and joy in our learning environments that is so incredibly beautiful to witness.
Recently a friend referenced a talk Fr. Mike Schmitz gave about how you become like the five people you spend the most time with. In pondering who those people are for me, one of the first thoughts was of the time I spend with the children in the Atrium and the impact they have on me. I have been blessed to spend time with children in many different settings, classroom and Atrium alike, parish, school, home, etc. My time with the children in the Atrium at The Way of the Shepherd has formed me and influenced me in a way I cannot describe. I am so grateful for the blessing and gift I have received in looking forward to going to “work” and having the opportunity to sit and listen at the Model Altar with a three year old, delighting in the light-bringing smile on his face as his eyes fixate on the dancing flames of the candles which speak of Jesus’ risen light or to see the pure joy in the face of the four year old who, when hearing a portion of the passage from Matthew’s account of the Empty Tomb, “He is not here!” proclaims, “That’s because He is the Good Shepherd and He wants to be with us, his sheep, always!” or to hear 4th through 6th graders describe the Maxims of Jesus as “Gifts, not rules, because He loves us and wants what is best for us.” (Can you believe that these examples are all from just this past week?!?!) When I think of the five people who I spend the most time with, who are the greatest influence on my life, in this moment in time “the children” get one of those spots and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I am the recipient of such a precious gift.
I am grateful today for our good and loving God who is so faithfully walking with our school community. As summer approaches, I am going to continue the prayers for our families, staff, and School Board that some of our parents have begun. Each family and each child who joins our community becomes such an integral part of who we are at The Way of the Shepherd; as we grow individually, we grow together. What a gift to be part of such a committed, focused, joyful group of pilgrims journeying with our good and faithful God towards the fullness of His Kingdom. I am so grateful!