The seasons of advent and Christmas are perfect times for us to reflect on where God is in our lives and how we respond to his call of love. Without God we are nothing. We receive everything from He who created all that is good. As St. Maximilian Kolbe puts it, “Man is a being called into existence from nothingness, total nothingness. Whatever he possesses and is he has received from God.” We can either view things in our lives as something we are entitled to, or we can view our time and talent as something entrusted to us by God. Every breath we take is truly a gift from God.
If everything then stems from Christ, should we not in turn love and serve him to the best of our ability? I find that the problem is not in finding this desire to keep Christ at the center, but our inability to live it out. We are human and we fall short. We continually get discouraged and bury ourselves in other things; family, activities, or our work. The struggle is that these are not usually bad things in themselves, but can often take our time away from God. However, God continues to call us closer to him. Just as you schedule other aspects of your day, work, meetings, study time and others, we should also schedule time for Jesus. On top of this we can invite God into our daily activities through simple prayers throughout the day or an ongoing conversation with Him. Take time to talk and pray with others, whether it is boldly witnessing to someone or praying with your family in the car or before bed. Invite God into your daily life.
So as Christmas quickly approaches and we are rushing to make preparations, let us remember to keep Christ at the center through prayer and thanksgiving.
People tell me all the time I’m the most organized person they know. So, when I was asked to contribute a blog on being well-ordered, I thought this would be easy. After all, ordered and organized mean the same thing, right? I’ve got this! Yet, I’ve thrown several wadded up drafts on the floor and have guided the backspace key to leave skid marks across line after line of what I decided not to say. I’ve poured over research and found some great quotes. I’ve prayed about it; and, frankly, anguished about it. Truth is, this is turning out to be way harder than I expected it to be. I’m overthinking it. When a computer glitch (ugh) at our house gobbled up, without so much as a burp, the hours of rough draft over which I had labored, my anxiety heightened to a less than well-ordered state, leaving this a less polished version of the assignment.
Despite every effort to think intellectually about orderliness, my mind kept going back to one of my favorite and most valued college classes back in the day. The required class was rumored to be “easy”; so, most of my peers, myself included, saved it until the semester before student teaching. The reality is, my college years would have gone more smoothly had this completed course appeared earlier on my transcript. The syllabus for "Principles of Organization", under Gloria Saxon’s watchful eye, marched through a lengthy parade of lessons building on simple, organizational strategies, progressing through complex assignments, incorporating practical applications of the value of being well-ordered. The foundation for the well-organized person I have grown to be may well have been in "Principals of Organization"; however, life is the laboratory in which habits are formed by repetition and self-discipline.
“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories”, said Plato. Conquering oneself through habitual self-discipline is at the very core of being well-ordered. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines well-ordered - adj., having an orderly procedure or arrangement. Other sources cite synonyms: carefully planned, customary procedure, established method, strategic and disciplined.
To be well-organized, one must determine what works and what doesn’t work… for them. Miss Saxon would say, “if you use it there, keep it there. Effort and time spent on any action should be efficient.” My mother, a common sense smart, farm woman, would say, “you’ve got to use your head, or you’ll have to use your feet!” What I always heard in Mom’s words was: make a plan – think it through - be prepared – get to work.
The daily attendance sheet – a lone piece of paper systematically collects all the vital data about the comings and goings of the scholars of whom I am held in charge each day. That single, piece of paper, so methodically arranged, paces my day with the reported Absent kids appearing at the top followed by the Where Are They? kids. Members of the Tardy Party strategically take their places mid-page recorded by earliest to latest arriving. The Late Arrivals/Leaving Earlys/ Out and Backs hold their routine place at the bottom of the page. There’s a method to my madness that all comes together as I submit my daily report as a piece of the diocesan records. I have learned, by habitual routine, to tame the chaos that can easily result if I do not follow a disciplined and customary procedure with this and many other routine tasks. Being well-ordered is a very good thing. At the end of the day, when everything is in its place, I am confident the next morning will go smoothly because I have purposefully planned for it to be. Yes, being well-ordered is a good thing!
An ordinary day in the Academy office includes the shuffling of untold numbers of pieces of paper. The most basic and universally known tool to assist in organizing paper is the English alphabet. Those twenty-six letters take command when it comes to organizing the Academy records and resources. Of what use would it be to throw all of it in file cabinet drawers without arranging things alphabetically and categorically? The alphabet is truly our friend when it comes to being well-ordered.
Past the walls of the office, it is with great pride I witness the SCBA scholars navigate the hallways in ordered lines and go about their daily, classroom routines adhering to procedures as established by the administration and reinforced by the staff. It is by habitual training and repetition, the scholars are learning to meet and exceed the expectations made of them and to develop self-discipline. It gives me even greater pride to observe our scholars demonstrating self-discipline in their behavior toward each other and toward our frequent guests. These well-ordered habits and behaviors will serve our young people well, long after they are scholars of SCBA.