By Nathan Carr, The Academy of Classical Christian Studies
A favorite scene in the Gospels: “Then he (Jesus) rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:20-21).
Followed by: “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:28-30).
The amount of pastoral insight available in this passage~
The sheer number of times it has come to mind for this Headmaster/Priest~
For him whose compassion poured out blood and water from his side; for him whose love invaded Galilee with healing for those who lay dying; for him whose mercy drew tears over a rebellious Jerusalem; for him—that guy—Jesus—there was a quality of silent (ennobling) authority that passed through the clamor; that passed through the noise and the anger and the panic and the anxiety, and simply went his way. Not every moment needs your response. Not every doubt-filled comment needs disputatio. Sometimes you say your prayers and go on your unhurried way. The Fulfillment, Consolation, and Light of the entire world just walked out of the synagogue. He has no need of a neon sign, a microphone, and an Iowa caucus to make his point.
It is that silent, ennobling authority that haunts me. A quality of mind in the second person of the Trinity which cannot be pulled into the clamor of the world’s projected angst and anger.
And now for the left turn at Albuquerque:
A favorite quote from Joseph Pieper’s Leisure: “Leisure, it must be clearly understood, is a mental and spiritual attitude—it is not simply the result of external factors, it is not the inevitable result of spare time, a holiday, a weekend or a vacation. It is, in the first place, an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul” (p. 46).
Followed by: “Leisure is a form of silence, of that silence which is the prerequisite of the apprehension of reality: only the silent hear and those who do not remain silent do not hear. Silence, as it is used in this context…means more nearly that the soul’s power to ‘answer’ to the reality of the world is left undisturbed” (p. 46).
Years ago, in a moment of frustrated language to clarify my position, I uttered the phrase ‘unhurried wonder’ during a discussion of PK curriculum. One might say, “and the rest was history.” It has become as closely aligned with our local and internal identity as a school as our mission statement itself. As you could imagine, it is often used as a quick citation and proof-text for any unwanted homework that might flow from one’s studies. Which is exactly NOT what I intended. The spirit of the comment was exactly that of Pieper: schole, leisure, school. Others have used juxtaposition to attempt definition: playful rigor; festive excellence.
Whatever it is, I ALWAYS think of Jesus passing through the crowds. A silent quality of mind whose authority and peace and clarity is unphased by the anxiety of the world. An unflappable quality that does not suggest for a minute that He is anything other than walking and embodied Love amidst a desperate people.
I want that for my school. For my team. For my 70+ teachers. For my parents. And so much more for my young scholars the city over.
For my students, it’s the difference between study and stress. Between the spirit of inquiry and the spirit of anxiety.
For my families and teachers, I think the first conclusion is that of patience. As I’ve said in another blog post before:
In the end, we must be patient with people. With your babies. With yourself and the expectations of any given day. It is the very essence of grace. Your identity is in no way bound up with the relative success of your kids. If you never post the beach photos on Instagram; if you never fit into the Lululemon size of your wildest fantasies; if your life is the opposite of curated; if you still secretly feed your children things filled with gluten and chemicals from the drive-thru windows of America; or if you’re the kind that judges others for feeding their children Dunkin’ instead of Superfood shots; rest assured: your identity was never bound up in any of that anyway (or the self-judgment that stands guard around it). It is bound up with the grace of God.