Monday, December 26, 2016

Patience: A Christmas Messsge

The following is what I shared with my school community this Christmas season:


Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.” 
- Henri Nouwen

Advent is a time of patience and waiting. We are reminded that in waiting for Christ’s birth we are blessed with many unanticipated gifts - most importantly getting to know Him better.
As a parent, teaching my children about the importance of patience and waiting can be challenging.
For example, here is a typical exchange at home in the build up to Christmas:

Kids: “Dad, can I open the gifts from under the Christmas tree?”
Dad:  “But it's only December 5th! You need to be patient.”
Kids: “How about just one? Please…...”
Dad: “You know that patience is a virtue!”
(And the debate goes on from there)

We are living in times when immediate results get the most and loudest attention and instant gratification is the norm. Ironically, despite this growing sense of impatience, we know that the practice of patience offers us important spiritual and cognitive benefits.

Here at school, waiting and being patient is an important aspect of the learning process. Many of us might get frustrated when we encounter a problem, concept, or skill that we cannot understand or demonstrate immediately and might choose to give up or (worse yet) sabotage our own efforts for fear of failure.

Interestingly, patience in the learning process often requires us to be very “active” in our patience by requiring us to persist and to embrace the value of perseverance, even when the waiting is longer than we'd like.

In the first four months of school I’ve seen our teachers reinforce many of the virtues of “active” patience with our students and their learning - whether in the classroom, on the field, in the gym, or on retreat. I have also seen the benefits of this “active” patience in our efforts around continuous school improvement and campus redesign efforts.

As we look to embrace more patience in our lives, especially during this Advent Season, on behalf of the faculty and staff of Vancouver College, I extend to each of you a restful and blessed holiday, a very Merry Christmas with wishes of hope, health and happiness for the New Year.

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