From the Head of School

Simple Gifts...

  • Letters from the Head of School
Alfred F. Dugan III

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

“Simple Gifts” performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Kraus

One busy afternoon, while I was working in my office trying to meet some seemingly important self-imposed deadline, I heard a knock on the door. When I turned toward the door, all I could see were the eyes of a Lower School boy peering at me, barely elevated over the door panel through the blinds. I paused. Being visited by a student during the day is one of my greatest joys. There is nothing more important than an encounter like this. I opened the door and greeted the student, who replied by saying “Hello Mr. Dugan. I made you something special.” 

From behind his back, the boy pulled out a cross that he had made out of two beautiful twigs, fastened in the center with a piece of Scotch tape. My heart filled with joy, gratitude and blessings. This simple gift made my day, both in the thoughtfulness of the creation and in the magic of the delivery. In the moment, this simple gift reminded me of our Sacred Heart mission to, quite simply, discover and reveal the love of God in our world. This beautiful cross is permanently on display in my office for all to enjoy, serving as a reminder of God’s love and a symbol of simple gifts.

Simple gifts come in all shapes and sizes, moments and memories. Perhaps one of the greatest simple gifts is time. Prior to the pandemic, I felt like we were all moving at unprecedented speed. For the past 18 months, we have been forced to slow down and recalibrate our way of doing things. During this epoch, I gained an amplified appreciation for time - how valuable it is, how fleeting and how mysterious. In recent weeks, as we work hard to emerge through the pandemic, I have felt an acceleration of that very same resource of time, but in unprecedented fashion. More seems to be packed into a day or an evening or a weekend than ever before and so, true confession, I tend to rush sometimes. 

Then I fractured my elbow while running in the dark before dawn, as I have done each and every morning for most of my adult life. I would like to extend a heartfelt Friday Thank You to all members of our community, and especially our boys, for your care, compassion and concern - I  will be fine. In a strange way, breaking my elbow has given me a simple gift:  I have been forced to slow down… a bit :) Being told that I had to take a break from running admittedly bummed me out. But when I replaced my morning run with a morning walk, I actually received unforeseen precious simple gifts: I was able to savor the sunrise a little bit longer while appreciating the moonset happening on the other side of the galaxy; I was blessed to see the hawk, who soars so gracefully with ease in the effort, perched so gracefully atop of a cross; I was able to say “good morning” to someone I did not know; I was able to take deep breaths and feel life from a different angle; I was able to enjoy moments that I might not have had I not been forced to slow down. 

I wish everyone “slow time” to cherish the simple gifts that reveal themselves along this precious journey of life. This is our shared charism. This is Sacred Heart.

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