One of my good friends from Nagasaki left a very subtle message, as Japanese people are known to do, on my Facebook page last night. She wrote, “Thank you for sharing heart warming stories with a bit of bitter taste.” Yes, there has been just a hint of bitterness in some of my writing through the years. This past week is no exception. The purpose of my blog is to help me maintain a consistent “attitude of gratitude.” Despite my attempt to stay positive, however, I do, at times, find myself venting about various issues.
This past week, the “issue” was the announcement by the bishop and superintendent of schools of the Diocese of San José that Saint Lawrence Academy would close in June 2016. I was angry -- not for myself, but because of the pain and disorientation the announcement has caused my former students and their families. I was certain that it was going to happen. I even predicted (three years ago) the correct date the school would close. Still, I shared the feeling of powerlessness which had overtaken so many people I care deeply about. It is not uncommon for powerlessness to lead to violence. For me, I prefer to use words to process my frustration and grief.
Nathaniel Hawthorne said it so well, “Words: So innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary; how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them well.” Like my students and their parents, I know I am powerless to confront the bishop regarding the closing of Saint Lawrence Academy. For this reason, I use the only resource available to me to share my thoughts, to support those who are grieving, and to publicly challenge those whose decision contradicts the very Gospel values the Church proclaims each Sunday. Is there a “bitterness” in my writing? Absolutely!
Words are powerful. They can be encouraging or discouraging. They can build-up or tear-down. Words can be kind or cruel, gracious or arrogant, just or unjust. Words, in fact, are very much like the leaders of our beloved Catholic Church.
It’s unfortunate when situations arise in which I find little to be grateful for -- but let me give it a shot. I’m grateful for the years I spent teaching at Saint Lawrence Academy. I’m grateful for my students, their parents, my colleagues, and for the privilege of teaching in Room 3 for so many years. It’s my favorite room on campus. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Japan Homestay Program and to have visited Nagasaki so many times. I’m grateful for the students, parents, and faculty at Junshin Junior & Senior High School who have always made me feel so welcome in Japan. And, of course, I am grateful to have the opportunity to retire at the age of 61.
For those who have been disappointed with any bitterness which has emerged in my writing, I sincerely apologize. That is not the intent of this blog. But life isn’t fair. It never has been and never will be. Injustice is a part of everyday life. So, too, is indifference to the most vulnerable members or our society.
I’ll do my best to re-focus... on gratitude.