• on September 13, 2021

From the Pastor’s Pen: September 2020

Dear St. John Neumann families and friends,

While I’m sure we will have some hot days here and there, it feels wonderful outside. The humidity and the temperature have dropped, the scent of fresh cut grass and a wood fire are mingling in the air, and more deer, skunk and all manner of critters seem to be out and about in Farragut. I pray that everyone is able to get outside and enjoy these beautiful days. There’s also a bumper crop of mustangs in the school this year – 413 as of today!

As a kid I often had mixed feelings about going back to school. I loved riding my bike, playing games, climbing trees, going to the farm, and watching tv (we only had four channels then)throughout the summer, but I was also excited to get back to school and see old friends, meet new teachers and classmates, and move up to the next grade.

When I was in sixth grade I picked up a nasty case of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus, not Revised Standard Version of the Bible). Not too long after that mononucleosis set in… I was out of school for weeks and in the hospital for a spell as they tried to coax my white blood cell count back up. When I began to show improvement, I helped with a little yard work—and received a heaping helping of poison ivy. This was quickly topped with chicken pox and some sort of infection (I was a eleven years old at the time, so I’m not certain of all the medical details). I think I went back to Children’s Hospital, who were and still are wonderful, for another stay. We didn’t have laptops and virtual school at that time, and much of that year was spent sleeping and trying to recover.

I recall Mom telling me I was going to need to join the class behind mine for 6th grade. Even then it didn’t hit me nearly as hard as I had expected it to… I just thought “This is what has to happen, but at least I can make a whole additional set of friends.” I got better and things turned out fine. I joined the class of 1993, and my teachers and everyone helped me pick up where I had left off with school a year prior.

That time in my life has come to my mind a lot lately because so many healthcare and educational professionals went the extra mile for me back in those days – and I was just one kid. Now we have so many more medical and educational tools in our toolboxes, and while they increase efficiency and access, they also keep everyone on call more than ever. Christ is vigilant in caring for us, teaching us, nourishing, protecting and sustaining us. I pray that Christ accompanies and consoles all educators, healthcare workers, parents and caregivers. I know that sometimes it feels like we are about to have a reprieve, only to find it’s actually time for a second, third or fourth wind. Hard times come, but they do also eventually pass. Then a new season for even more new friends and joy and relief comes. May we all pray for and support one another in the Spirit of the Prince of Peace.

In Christ,

Fr. Joe

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