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A Moment of Courage and Beauty

February 5, 2018 | by David O'Neil

Dear Pacifica,

At All-School Meeting this morning, a Pacifica student shared her very personal experience with suffering. The conversation was an honest reflection on the pain we experience living in a broken world. Under the guidance — although it was not needed — of a Pacifica teacher, this young lady walked us through her experience with suffering, pride, losing control, seeking help, recovering, and ultimately beauty and hope. In all my years as an educator, I have seen few acts as courageous or beautiful as the one we experienced this morning. 

Today we were emboldened to look for the beauty that is found in suffering, to ask for help when we feel lonely or experience pain, and ultimately to trust that God will lead us in and through all things. As we closed, circled hand-in-hand, she led us in community prayer. There was so much goodness at this moment that I wish you could have experienced it! 

This morning was the third courageous student message we have experienced during assembly. Words from peers are powerful in the lives of teenagers. Afterwards, students lingered in the gym. Some for prayer. Some to celebrate the courage and strength of their classmate. Others, to take in the moment. I too lingered. I watched, and I listened.

As I watched and listened, I witnessed our students loving one another. We often talk about the power of knowing and being known. Through seeing, listening, and caring our students were becoming known this morning. By no means is Pacifica a perfect place, but it is most certainly a good place!

As our teachers and staff were speaking with our students following the presentation I heard, and experienced, a common refrain, “I love and trust my parents very much, but I do not want to burden them with my problems or questions.” As a dad, this breaks my heart, and I know it breaks yours as well. I can see my two girls making similar statements as teenagers. This is important for parents for two reasons. First, your kids love and trust you! Thanks be to God! And, second, to encourage you to press on in their silence — or even in their dismissiveness. When you see them, or listen to them, or care for them, they notice, and it has good effect. The love of a parent towards their teenager is always appreciated, and seldom recognized and rarely reciprocated. Keep on, fighting the good fight! 

As a young person begins to experience and contemplate the joys, and sorrows, that accompany adult-life, at times they feel disoriented or alone. The message we heard today is that you are not alone. Instead, we have the hope of Christ, the gift of community, and faith in the assurance about what we do not yet see.

ONeil_David_185Allow me to leave you with these comforting words from the book of Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.”

With love and prayers,

David O’Neil
Head of School