This summer has been like no other I have ever experienced. As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on our lives, we are wearing masks on the beach and sitting in front of computer screens for several hours at a time in virtual meetings. It has been nearly four months since Governor John Carney issued stay at home orders and Archmere Academy’s academic program and school operations pivoted overnight to a virtual model. We are also engaged in important conversations about systemic racism, equity, and justice in our country that have not been at the forefront of our national dialog since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. We are called to acknowledge that our words and actions, conscious or unconscious, have substance and the power to hurt, but also heal. To make meaningful, progressive, and permanent change so that all members of our community feel valued, heard, and understood, we recognize the resource we have in our engaged extended school community. Your willingness to connect with Archmere’s administration out of love and commitment to our Academy, is deeply valued and appreciated.
As this is the last week of classes for the school year, and the last school year with Mr. Jordan '80 as principal, I will wait to share with you my "weekly" update in our last monthly school newsletter of the year on Friday. Be well and be safe!
May is a particularly nostalgic month for me. My father died 48 years ago on May 14th when I was in eighth grade, two weeks before my 14th birthday and three weeks before my grade school graduation. I had already been accepted to Archmere with a scholarship, which was based on my academic performance, but also on our family's financial need. As the fourth of four sons born "later in life" to my parents who were only afforded 8th grade educations, it was a "dream come true" for my parents, and a life-changing event for me.
We have a serving plate in our kitchen that has hairline cracks, a couple of chips, and is a little faded. It was my mother's plate, and perhaps she even inherited it from her mother. Even though it is very weathered, I still like it. I thought about the plate as a metaphor for looking at this school year as it is quickly coming to a close.
"I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me." (John 10:14) We heard these words as the verse to the Gospel Acclamation - the Alleluia - before last Sunday’s Gospel. I would venture to say that most of us have never encountered a shepherd in our lives, so how do we relate to the words of Jesus, who says that he is "the good shepherd?"
For the last several weeks, Catholics have been unable to receive communion, since churches are closed due to the pandemic. Instead, many of us have been making an act of spiritual communion, which we pray at the time of communion as part of virtual services that we watch through the internet.
Most of us have been seeing one another "virtually" for more than a month now. I have remarked on several occasions to family and friends how fortunate we are to have this technology in these pandemic times, and how isolating and frightening it must have been for those people who lived through the influenza epidemic of the early 20th century and other pandemics throughout history. There is something about seeing and hearing another person that gives us comfort and a sense of hope that we are not alone.
It's Easter! The long wait of Lent is over, and we are now in a time of celebration. Forty days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving gives way, through the Easter Triduum, to fifty days of hope and joy when Jesus resurrected was present to his followers. IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!
In the Gospel reading for today's Mass, the scene is the Last Supper, when Judas leaves the table and Peter claims that he will never leave Jesus' side. Both abandon him, as do the rest of his disciples - his friends. Jesus must have felt so isolated, betrayed, disappointed, upset, and frightened all at the same time. He knew what was going to happen, but I wonder if he could conceive of the brutality of his passion and death. Then there were the apostles; it was much easier for them to follow Jesus in happier times when he was hailed as the "Son of David" as he entered Jerusalem, just a short time before his arrest.
One of our five core value words is "community," and it is based on the Norbertine tradition of "communio." It has as its key components, "contemplation on God's Word made visible in worship and service within the local church," as articulated in the mission statement of Daylesford Abbey. It is about being together as a community to worship God and serve one another, which has certainly evolved in their delivery and context in the last few weeks.
In the first reading of the Mass last Sunday, March 22, from the first Book of Samuel, is the statement, "Not as man sees does God see . . . " (1 Samuel 16:7) Sometimes we may find it hard to "let go and let God" happen in our lives which are well-planned and prescribed for most of us - not all bad - but certainly different from what we are experiencing daily since the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We look to our faith and perhaps ask ourselves questions: What can we learn from this disruption? Where do we find God in all of this? I believe through daily prayer and meditation we can respond to these and other questions in our minds that may generate anxiety, disappointment, anger, and a host of emotions that we may not even be acknowledging.
As the days pass, we hear more and more about business and school closings, postponed and cancelled events, and new recommendations from federal, state, and local authorities on precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With each day, we comprehend a bit more how far-reaching and potentially long-lasting the impact of these closures and cancellations are and will be for all of us.
As of 8:00 a.m. this morning, Governor Carney enacted a State of Emergency in Delaware. Recommended as part of his statement, the Governor asks that gatherings of large groups of people be minimized, and that we make collaborative efforts as citizens to mitigate the spread of the virus through our planned daily activities. The spread of COVID-19 has created significant disruption in our daily routines, in addition to causing anxiety and uncertainty in planning our lives.