Friday 23 March 2018

The Power of a Story

This week I’ve spent a large part of my time conducting interviews with people who want to become part of the Saint Ignatius’ College community. It’s always interesting listening to the impressions of very young men about who they think we are and comparing that with my own lived experience of the College. They tend see the external things, which is only fair, since very few of them have seen our lives from the inside. When I ask what they think about the College, they tend to say things like “It’s big!” (true) and “You’re a sporty school!” (sort of true). The thing that nearly all of them, whether parents or boys, talk about is the strength of our community. That that is what they want the most in their educational experience. There are plenty of schools out there, many of them excellent at what they do. But what attracts them to Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview is the depth and breadth of our community. The strength of our community is communicated in our story, too, and there are many chapters to that story: some of service (our immersions, Christian service, the Old Ignatian’s Union, this chapter goes on and on) some of academics, some of the performing arts and many others.

Last weekend, we wrote some incredible new lines in that story. As proud as I am of the sporting results from last weekend – a national mountain biking premiership, two of the best mountain bikers in the country, another baseball premiership (three in a row), a perfect cricket season, several individuals who represented the College at athletics at a national level and of course, after 43 years, the crew who brought home a victory at the Head of the River – I wouldn’t trade all of that trophy hardware for the amazing soul of the College: our community. But we don’t have to worry about trading that. Because by focusing on who we are, and who we desire to be, and letting our character and actions tell our story, the success flows from that. As long as we focus on being the community we were created to be, everything else will follow and we will continue to attract people who value our story and desire to be members of a community that celebrates effort and excellence together and comforts those in need together. So it’s been a week of things to be grateful for, in the form of things long hoped for and in the hope and life that new members of our community will bring to us.

This week’s reflection:

These guys. I was hiking up out of a swimming hole at a stream after getting clean following a long day on the Kokoda Track a couple of years ago. The novelty of watching a bunch of smelly gringos swim in a stream had worn off and they were sitting around talking and joking with one another. And telling stories. That one guy must have been a great story teller, because they were wrapt listening to him. Community is the place where we share moments like this, where we share our stories together. Stories that transcend language; even when we can’t understand what’s being said, we can still feel their power. The most interesting stories go beyond the limits of language. What are the stories of our community that have been important for you?

Fr Jack McLain SJ