We have the liturgical practice of beginning our weekly Upper School faculty meeting with something praiseworthy: for example, last year teachers shared examples of virtue and godly character they saw in the lives of their students, and this year teachers are sharing something for which they are grateful.
During this time, teachers have mentioned all kinds of things for which they are grateful: to be part of a community of learners, to have students who love what is good, and to be in a school where they can freely point their students towards the all-satisfying love of Jesus, to name a few.
One of my favorite moments of gratitude came earlier this semester, when one of our female teachers shared that students had written notes in the bathroom stalls. Having been in my share of bathroom stalls, I know the notes written there aren’t typically the sort that inspire the gratitude of teachers. Or administrators.
With more than a little trepidation, I asked for more information.
A group of students, of their own accord and on their own time, had taken it upon themselves to post Bible verses, written in their best cursive script and decorated beautifully, all around the Upper School hallways, including in the bathroom stalls. The students picked encouraging verses about overcoming trials, finding hope in every situation, and relying on God’s strength and not their own. When I asked one of the students who led the initiative, she said, “We wanted to do it to build unity in the entire school by encouraging one another. We really tried to focus on students outside of our own friend group and classes.” When I asked why they chose Bible verses instead of other inspirational quotes, both girls looked at me like I had lost my mind and answered emphatically, “It’s the Word of God!”
In his seminal work on Christian community, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “[T]he Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged…. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation.” Our school is a Christian community, and as such we want to constantly speak God’s Word to each other. In an era in which teenage depression and suicide are spiraling out of control, it is increasingly important that the habit is cultivated in our teens of proclaiming to their friends God as revealed in His Word as the ultimate source of all Truth and hope.
As Bonhoeffer said, the proclamation of God’s Word is a powerful source of hope and encouragement. May Ambrose be a school where His Word is proclaimed in all places and at all times.
Even in the bathroom stalls.