When you move to a new school as a teacher or administrator, there’s always a learning curve. Eventually, though, you become accustomed to the rhythm and sounds of your new setting, and settle in. You come to know the routine buzz of the school at work, and the noisiness of recess. Break time is a good time to get to know the students a little more, and having a presence in the midst of the recess fun is not such a bad thing.
In contrast, then, is a quiet at recess that sets off the Spidey-senses, that feeling that it’s just a little too quiet to be a normal break. At one of my former schools, the Spidey-sense kicked in during a lunch recess, so, in search of some of the usual characters who might like to create a little chaos, I started casually seeking out the happenings. As I approached one of the classrooms, I thought I heard some guitar music playing. One of the students poked her head out the door, and quite promptly ‘shushed’ me as I got closer. Not used to being ‘shushed’ by a thirteen year old, yet far too curious to worry about it, I did as requested, and tiptoed into the room. The scene that greeted me amazed me. About twenty or so junior high students were relaxing in the room, and the centre of attention was one of the students playing his electric guitar, really well, I might add. The other students were giving him their full attention, enjoying the music. This was absolutely the last person I would have expected to be playing his guitar for his friends. This was a young man who had spent his share of time in my office for his general behavior in class. On a one to one basis he was a pleasant and kind fellow, but as for meeting academic expectations….well, not so much. I never dreamed that he had such an aptitude for the guitar; yet here he was, playing some tunes for his friends who were giving him their full attention and heaping on genuine teenage praise. Later on while we all were returning to class, the teacher in me leaped out, and I commented to him that if he’d just put half the same amount of effort into getting schoolwork done as he did practicing guitar, he’d be in good academic shape. The fact that he would bring his guitar and amp to school just to play during any spare moment was a commitment to something that we had not seen in him before, and wouldn’t it be great if that work ethic hit the books, too. He just looked at me, gave me a crooked smile, and said “Yeah, that’s what all the other teachers said, too.” He was sweetly pointing out that we teachers had missed the point. What was so obvious to us was a renewed opportunity to squeeze him for academic improvement because his commitment to excellence shone through in these lunch time concerts. Obvious to him was simply that he had found something to be passionate about, something that he found personally challenging and fulfilling at the same time. And we found we needed to recognize his newly discovered talent, appreciate it and just listen to him play. We were the ones who were renewed, and it was through this young man who reminded us that God is full of surprises, if we would only pay attention to the signs.
As we enter into these final weeks of Lent, we are still called to embrace the quiet, pray. Listen to what Jesus’ journey to the cross is whispering to us.
We need to ‘shush’ – the music of the Resurrection is on its way.