Let's Sing a New Song
“The Lord has removed the judgment against you.” Zephaniah 3:15
There’s a lot of judging that goes on in high school. Young people seem to naturally divide themselves into groups by type. The benefit to judging is clarity in navigating relationships - knowing what types to let in and keep out. Judging and typing also make for clear boundaries so that stronger fences can be built. We humans like the safety and comfort that comes with that.
But, of course, none of those things make us more human. For one, there’s no growth in living safe lives. (As Sr. Alfred used to tell us in grade school: “Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”) And the compartmentalizing that comes with constant judging also leads to the kind of tribalism that is wrecking so much of American society today.
The best medicine we have for our students’ tendency to judge one another is a good dose of Kairos. Our juniors spend the four days of this retreat talking and listening. Kairos moments happen when young people break free from the types they’d been boxed into. Stories told and heard lead to empathy, and the greater wisdom and understanding that comes with that.
A lot of us adults could use a stiff dose of Kairos. A huge, four-day retreat isn’t realistic, but a simple yet significant shift in the way we encounter one another would work wonders. St. Ignatius said that we “should always interpret another’s actions in a light most favorable to that person.” Imagine what our culture would look and feel like with that kind of generosity, one that assumes goodness in the other before typecasting those we disagree with as evil villains. Empathy and understanding would flow freely, a sure cure for tribalism.
Kairos means “God’s time.” What a time we would have if we were to live with hearts not so easily bent toward judging. As Zephaniah said, the Lord would be in our midst, rejoicing with us in gladness, renewing us with his love, singing “joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” Judging hearts moan and groan, but rarely sing.
The Lord will soon be in our midst. Let’s welcome him by singing a different tune.
Kent Hickey is the President of Seattle Prep. Kent teaches Sophomore Scripture and Senior Seminar. He and his wife,
Terry, are parents to Hannah `13, Eddie `15 and Sam, `17.