Sunday, January 30, 2011

Confidence

Well, here we go again. Another snow—big and wet and deep. Yuck. This is one of those times I am glad I live at the store; because many people – including our parish staff – took up to five hours to get home from work in the mess! It does seem to me that we are having wilder weather, in general, in recent years.

Last night, after spending some time shoveling my walks, I made my way around the neighborhood in the last hour of the snowfall. A lot of houses were dark – darker than usual even at that time of night. I knew the families in many of them, and could picture their response to this all-too-familiar scenario. In Alabama we blamed our frequent power outages on the unhappy combination of pine trees, above ground power lines, and two eight-week tornado seasons each year. Here, I am not so sure, but know that many folks, including many in this parish, are sure ready to blame somebody!

It is not something we enjoy, this having no control over things. We do what we can, and try not to rage against the storm, knowing how little that accomplishes. Of course lately, it seems that more and more things are like the weather – and Pepco – are just outside of our ability to make them better.

I spoke at a meeting in the school Tuesday evening, at which about a third of the school families were represented by one or both parents. As I mentioned here last week, it is an annual meeting at which we present the school budget and next year’s tuition costs. Fundamentally, there was a lot of good news. The school budget is sound, school improvements and enhancements are continuing, and tuition increases are LESS than we forecast to expect in any given year.

But there was very little smiling going on. Things are tight, and faces showed it. Any tuition increase is unwelcome, since many folks are receiving smaller increases in income – or none at all.

I was not the only one speaking to a tense crowd that evening; the president gave his State of the Union address. Because of my talk, I missed his, and have to go by what I read in the papers the next morning. I felt for him – his audience was a lot larger, at least as skeptical as mine, and divided.

Ours is not only more compact, but also more unified. I can lead confidently in directions that he can’t. I can move relentlessly to make our budget and planning fiscally sound – since everyone knows I can’t print more money. I can count on people’s willingness to make sacrifices, even painful ones. They are already doing that to keep their kids in Catholic school; they are willing to continue to do it because they can see the fruit that it bears in the short and long terms, in the well being of their children and our community. I can direct resources toward investments in our future, by putting it into our people, program, and infrastructure.

It is hard when you realize you are not in control of all the factors that affect your life. Ask any mom, dad, president, or pastor. What helps, though, more than mustering confidence in your own ability to overcome, is knowing that the one you depend on for guidance, strength, and protection, has already won the victory. Praised be Jesus Christ – now and forever.

Monsignor Smith

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