A great deal of what I understand in life, I learned from the farm.  I learned about the cycle of life and the impermanence of nearly everything (change is guaranteed) along with the powerlessness in the face of nature (it’s not fair doesn’t apply to tornados, blizzards and drought).

I remember standing with my father looking at an irrigation system and having him explain that each segment of the pipeline that brought the water from beneath the Earth to the corn crop that was threatened by drought was more expensive than our home…and was the lifeline for all of us who depended on the farm.


Reciprocal: equal exchange — to both give and receive — to be willing to give when you have enough and to be willing to receive when you are in need

To both give and to receive and to know that both will be asked of you — required of you. Those of us who depended on the farm learned early that in the bountiful harvest, when the silos were overflowing and the bank accounts were full — to act with justice as there would be a moment that we would find ourselves on the other side. Times to support the bank loan and times to need it. To be in the position of being reciprocal.

We find ourselves in the fourth week of school. The early resolutions of both students and adults wane in the face of reality. The promises of homework done and benchmarks made and high expectations begin to waiver in the face of challenge. For more than three decades, I have watched this experience among our most commmitted students and I know it myself — that promise that I want to have happen is confronted by the challenge of trying to control the impossible. I fight the temptation to want to rescue our students, or to finish the job left incomplete by colleagues — to prevent the embarrassment that some will know in less than satisfactory progress and to keep holding and looking into the reflective mirror that is required before we can make real change.

And then, I recall the lessons I learned in my early morning walks through fields hanging on to the ring of cloth intended for a hammer on my father’s work pants. Reciprocal — it is to realize the lessons of give and take To receive the gifts of the harvest, we have to give the effort of the planting. It’s never immediate and there is no guarantee, but the harsh teacher called nature provides example for us — as parents, grandparents and educators — to let resilience be harvested with our planting of responsibility in the lives of our children.  If we rescue them from the simple choice they have before them today, we strip away the autonomous gift given in understanding the mystery and magic of “reciprocal.”

They need “reciprocal” — fundamental to both leadership and citizenship — to learn the power of humility in receiving and the power of compassion in giving…both born of being given the space to learn that the seed you cultivate is the one you harvest.

Make today count…”Reciprocal” in process

Something NEW

open heart

Today, we gathered to be present to the unimaginable…to the mystery and the miracle of students and adults of all ages, faiths, and experience joining with our international Sacred Heart family to learn from Pope Francis about how to create a community.

It wasn’t easy to build bridges of relationship between people of difference — to open the hearts of those whose roles and livelihood depend on being in opposition to one another.  He used our “mother tongue” and forced his own speech to be labored with the effort of making each word count.  With emotion born of compassion, I listened and I watched as our adolescents exercised the discipline of attention even in the midst of discomfort and difficulty hearing and understanding….I found my heart bubbling through the unusual experience of tears as I realized the profound power of technology to connect us to an experience of the world. I shared a few moments with some of our youngest children as they thought that the Pope was on “Face-Time” and believed that he was waving right at them. And quietly delighted as one of them said to me, “You two must be on the same team because he has a cross like you.”

I rather like thinking of myself as being on the same Team…and creating a world where the integrity of Lincoln and the ferocious leadership of Martin Luther King finds voice in the lived compassion of Dorothy Day grounded in the experience of God made visible in Thomas Merton. I was challenged, encouraged and inspired with the experience of being with this school community to which I have gladly given my life as a Religious of the Sacred Heart in this moment of being ready for “Something New” … but most of all, it is the JOY of Pope Francis…given in SERVICE that inspires me to sit in silence and to find myself “WILLING” …to allow God to use my limitations as well as my gifts…my need to be forgiven as well as my desire to forgive without keeping score…to trust that the agenda of the day is exactly what is needed…and to be ready to “Give it to God and go on” — because it is when we trust one another enough to create community… SOMETHING NEW is possible.

Thank you…for the miracle of this day