Saturday, May 31, 2014

3,000 PIECES

During the month of May our students do hands-on experiential education courses. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the re-opening of St. Benedict's Prep one of our teachers came up with a project which involved having students (a) research the history of the school and (b) design and execute a mosaic of our school's seal.

Their mosaic is about seven feet on a side, in full color, containing over 3,000 tiles. It was installed the other day on an outside wall so that it can be seen from our athletic field. From ten yards away you don't see the indvidual tiles but only the school seal as a single entity. It's only as you get closer that you realize that you're looking at thousands if individual pieces.As a faculty member I was invited to place one tile in the mosaic. Now when I look at the finished work I can't see my piece; but I know it's there.

With the graduation of the class of 2014 on June 1, the number of living alumni who have graduated since our re-opening will for the first time be greater than the number of living alumni from before 1972. The number of the "recent" alumni is, it occurs to me, roughly the same as the number of tiles in the mosaic. An interesting image, I think.

Our student body is made up of kids from around the world, from a variety of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, with  an immense variety of talents. Yet in some wonderful way they all make up one community. It's truly a lesson for the rest of the world that is so divided allong lines of skin color, language or ethnicity. I'm very proud that I've been able to put my piece in this beautiful mosaic.


In my May 3 post I described two different kids with two contrasting journeys. Each of them is a little piece of our mosaic. I want to give you a brief update.

The "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" freshman who as all ready to take on the challenges of the backpacking hike? Well, he sprained his ankle a couple of days before the big hike and was in a walking cast. The doctor told him there was no way he was going backpacking. So, with all his enthusiasm and his hoping for a challenge, he had to stay home and deal with a different challenge: disappointment. I imagine that this proved to be much more of a test of character than anything he would have met on the Trail.

The young man who had just returned from rehab? He's doing well. Of course you always have to keep your fingers crossed with kids like him. I came upon a conversation between him and three of his classmates. They were quizzing him, jokingly, for information about some latest exotic designer drug; they know of his struggles, and in typical guy fashion they deal with it by joking with him about his situation. He turned to me rolling his eyes, obviously struggling to see the humor in their ribbing, and said to me "This is what you have to put up with. It's part of being a recovering addict." Well, they say you're only as sick as your secrets. If that's true, then this kid doesn't have many big secrets around here. Maybe that'll help him.


When I look at the mosaic in the future I'm going to see in my mind's eye the 3,000 individual pieces that make up our alumni. I'll see hundreds of stories with wonderful endings, lots of stories of tragedy and even murder, lots of hopes still unfulfilled. And I'll see it as a living thing with more pieces being added all the time.

And I'll thank God each time for allowing me to put my one tile into that mosaic and maybe be of some help to a few kids in the process.

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