Late last month I had the opportunity to offer a few remarks to a small gathering sponsored by the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) and the Southwestern Association of Episcopal schools (SAES) for newly appointed heads of Episcopal schools. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the group.
In my remarks I shared a few reflections about the rewards and challenges of school headship, particularly Episcopal school headship. One metaphor I used in my remarks to the group seemed to strike a chord with them. I noted that everyone knows how incredibly hot the Phoenix weather is in summer, but relatively few people know that the heat can be escaped in a rather short period of time (Arizona deserts and canyons are well known, our mountains not so much). I then told the heads about a recent trip Jan and I had made to our condo in the small town of Overgaard in Mogollon Rim country. When Jan and I left Phoenix late one Friday afternoon, the temperature was 107 degrees. As we enjoyed the distinctly Arizona sport of watching the external temperature gauge in our vehicle fall dramatically downward, we began to experience the change of pace and serenity that we sought in our weekend excursion. When we arrived in Overgaard a mere two and one-half hours after departing Phoenix, we had witnessed and now felt a temperature decline of 50 degrees- from 107 to 57!
My point in telling that story was to suggest to the heads that they need to devise reliable strategies to lower the temperature (i.e., stress levels) of their jobs effectively and healthily. I have learned this lesson in my own life over many years and with many false starts. Now, however, I find everything from family time to prayer to friendship to meditation to exercise to music to pleasure reading as important and healthy dimensions of my life no matter what tasks await me.
Learning how to lower the temperature of our lives is important for all of us, not just school heads. But I feel particularly graced that I spend my days at an Episcopal school. This morning witnessed a particularly sweet, touching, temperature-lowering, spirit-upraising moment when Luke, the child of one of our teachers, was baptized at our lower school chapel service. I have a busy day today, but I know I’ll be living it at a comfortable 57 degrees.
Until next time…