Through my office window, I watch the swirl flow through Hayes Plaza. Often, as students pass by my window, they will catch my eye and give a wave and a smile, a flashing acknowledgement that life is good.
We rightly worry a lot about students' mental health, but what I see from my privileged perch is a whole lotta joy.
My favorite viewing time is after the final bell, when the freshmen come out to hang in Hayes Plaza. There is nothing quite like a gaggle of 15-year-olds in the full flower of adolescence on a sunny day in May.
The Jesuit paleontologist and mystic Pierre Teilhard deChardin famously asserted, "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God." If that is true, then God has been quite active at JHS in the month of May. Joy comes in spontaneous bursts, as we witnessed at the dramatic conclusion of our women's championship lacrosse season (check out Ella Smith catching air in this photo, as she realizes that her team had just clinched its first-ever title!).
The baseball team has had two walk-off hits in its past two playoff games. The latest, a Tuesday extra-innings shot by senior catcher Joe Angeli, set off such a dogpile of joyfilled players that I worried Joe might get crushed amidst the delirium.
Yes, Joy is usually spontaneous. But sometimes moments of Joy can be predicted. Thursday, May 30, at 2:30 pm exactly, Jesuit's senior hall will be the site of such an ecstatic outpouring of joy that you could bottle it. At that moment, our seniors will recognize their monumental feat—surviving and thriving through a challenging four-year Jesuit journey that has changed them forever. And they will holler and hug for the pure joy of it.
Saturday we will have another joyfilled, sacred celebration with the Class of 2019, known as Baccalaureate. Then the great joyfest known as Commencement comes on Sunday, followed by Grad Night. All of these formal end-of-year celebrations are punctuated by graduation parties, family reunions, and moments of well-earned joy for our graduates.
As Dr. Chris Smart reminded the faculty on May 28 at Mass, Joy is different than Happiness. Happiness happens to individuals; joy requires connection with other people.
That is why the joy erupting this week at Jesuit, the joy I witness outside my window each afternoon, is such a Jesuit expression. Our work at JHigh is ultimately based on relationships—with each other, with the world, and with God. So let us jump for joy as we complete another school year, survive another spate of final exams, and send our seniors off into their bright futures, knowing that our world is already suffused with the presence of God. Which is to say, Joy.
Paul J. Hogan