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Here Comes the Sun

This morning, as I drove to school, I was so happy the sun was shining, after a dreary weekend of clouds and rain. “It’s going to be a good day,” I thought to myself. I had to make a quick run into the grocery store, and a very nice gentleman held the door open for me – another sign! Some days I have to remind myself to focus on what is good, no matter how seemingly small and trivial, or I will allow myself to get caught up in all that is not. There are, no doubt, many more things for which to be grateful, and yet, it is human nature to focus on the negative.

This is true for adults and children, especially post-COVID. Students in all grades seem to have an unquenchable need for affirmation, from their teachers as well as from their peers. It is often difficult to provide constructive feedback because students have a hard time accepting anything less than positive. For many, their self-esteem is low, and they sometimes equate a critique in their skill as a personal critique.

Children and adolescents often find themselves on both sides of the “word wars." It is likely that almost every student has, at one point, said something unkind or even cruel to another student; it is equally as likely that every student has, at one point, been the recipient of an unkind or cruel statement. This is the time in their lives when they need to learn how to navigate in social settings. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic, which required isolation and social-distancing, delayed this important process/practice. Children are quick to point out when someone has been unkind to them, but they forget how their harsh words may have affected someone else. Further, students have difficulty hearing and accepting others’ opinions and they do not seem to know how to resolve conflicts in an amicable way. While it makes sense that people who make us feel good are valuable to us, it is also important to recognize that people who disagree with us can be a blessing as well. When we are challenged, it forces us to re-evaluate our positions and perhaps even change them. In short, we can learn from one another, even in irritation, if we allow ourselves to be open-minded.

St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, developed a daily ritual called the Examen, and it is a practice that is beneficial for all of us. There are several versions of this type of prayer. There are no words, only guidelines, but this is the format I find most useful:

  • Become aware of God’s presence (ask God to be with you)

  • Review the day with gratitude (recall 5 positive blessings from the day – be specific)

  • Identify one way in which you were a blessing to someone else (picture that person)

  • Identify one way in which you fell short, were unkind, could have done better (picture that person)

  • Strive to make the next day better and look forward to starting fresh tomorrow

By making this a daily practice, by asking God to help us see where we can be better and by placing a higher focus on what is positive, perhaps our children will be able to gain more confidence and be less upset by the actions of their peers.

In Mission,


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