Last week one day, we received a letter in the mail from my younger son's school. It was a letter stating that the principal had resigned a few days earlier for "deeply personal reasons". My first response was disappointment, though that was not shared by anyone else in my house. Is that not a kid's dream - to have the principal resign?? And my dear husband - he has never really liked him.
A few years ago, I would have been the most excited of the bunch! We had been through a really rough year. There was one issue where I felt which could have been handled MUCH better with communication on the part of the school. Once that was past, I kind of swept my hurt feelings under the rug, until another ugly situation raised its head. All year long, I felt like I had tried to address this issue - and again it was largely a result of lack of communication. This time with the classroom teacher, and I was not the only one with the issue. It was incredibly frustrating, and things intensified. I looked into other schooling options for my children, and emails were exchanged between the principal and myself. Some, I couldn't believe that a professional person was sending, though mine weren't a whole lot better. When I would turn the corner to the school, my stomach would begin to knot up. It just wasn't a good thing.
Mercifully the year ended. My boys were not too gung-ho about switching schools, and I didn't want to push them into that because of my issues. But that meant this issue needed to be resolved. I approached my then-pastor one morning after Mass and explained that I had some issues and asked if he would share his wisdom with me. He said he wasn't sure how much wisdom he had, but he agreed to help. We made an appointment for a few days later.
I printed out the emails for him to read and winced a little bit at the tone and content of some of mine. But I went in to the meeting convinced that I was right and that he would agree with me. Mostly, though, I just wanted to know how to make the situation workable again.
What transpired during that meeting was most amazing. He sorted through "the evidence", asked questions, advised, and shared examples from his own life. Not once did I ever feel judged, but neither was I absolved from any wrong-doing. "I suppose," he said, "if one wanted to repair the relationship, one would need to apologize." And then we went from there. We talked about what could have been done differently and what would lend itself to an apology, and what should not be apologized for. There really was the feeling that the Holy Spirit was guiding things. As I left an hour and a half later, my pastor looked at me and said, "I'll be praying for you." At that the time, I thought that was kind of weird - I wasn't opposed to prayer; in fact, I'd asked my best friend to pray for things to go well with the meeting. Maybe what struck me as odd was that he just volunteered that he would pray for me "out of the blue". I mean, a priest praying isn't really that odd.
And so I left, with a peace that I hadn't felt in a long time, and even more remarkable was that I left at peace with the idea of apologizing to this person who had caused me so much grief. It could have only been the grace of God or the working of the Holy Spirit. Because I was pretty certain that God was working through His representative on earth, and because didn't have a clue how to fix things on my own, I followed Fr. P's advice.
When I got home, I emailed the principal and asked if I could meet with him. We met a couple of days later and visited. I did indeed apologize to him, and we agreed to start over. I always thought there was enough that had been exchanged that I wasn't the only one in the room who could have been apologizing, but I was, and that was - strangely - OK. I went to Mass that day at noon, and found my pastor afterwards. I told him that all had gone well, and he gave me a hug. That weekend, I went to confession and kind of closed out the whole ugly chapter.
Later that summer, the man's mother passed away. A part of me knew that it was time to "put up or shut up". So I bought a card and had a Mass said for his mother. I made sure the Mass was on a day when he would be able to attend during the day (noon, as opposed to 6:30 a.m.), and sent the card. I didn't hear anything from him. The day of the Mass came and went.
Then one day in the car-rider line there was a knock on my window. I often used my time inching along in line to pray. I was "in the zone" this particular day, and him knocking on the window startled me. He wanted to thank me, he said. The card was on his desk and the Mass came on a day when he really "needed" to go to Mass. And there began a tentative peace.
I joked that he was "my new best friend". In the years that followed, when I had a problem, I went straight to him. We never had another issue. He was encouraging when my boys did bonehead things and helpful when we had a problem. When I spotted poison ivy growing outside the gym last spring, he ripped it out with his bare hands. When I was nervous about flying, he shared his "trick" about making the sign of the cross on the plane as he boards.
I got some grief from those who love and know me about my decision to make peace. Some thought I was crazy to apologize. It certainly went against the ways of the world in which we live, but I have no regrets. God uses all things for good, and my skills at apologizing have come in handy a few times since then in other situations.
I know that all can not be well with him and/or his family for him to leave like this three weeks into the school year. I do wish, however, that God does bring good out of whatever the situation is that he currently finds himself in.
22 July: Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
7 hours ago