Kej

Kej

I have used the picture above as my Facebook profile pic on and off for the past three years. It has been my profile pic since a few days before February 4th, 2013. The day Katie and I’s life changed.

So, what am I doing in this picture?

I was in a hotel room in Guatemala City on my last day of a three week stint in Guatemala. I spent the entire time in Xela, a town in the Guatemalan hills, studying at a Spanish Language school, La Paz, and doing some serious introspection. Throughout my time in Xela, I wrote in a journal that I titled, “Inside.”

I did not go to Guatemala to figure out my life’s path, but that’s what happened.

When I returned to Cincinnati, I realized that it was time to leave Moeller. I felt I had, in many humble ways, outgrown the auspices of the Archdiocese. I applied for numerous jobs in the not for profit sector, but then I was presented with the Dean of Student Life position at Purcell Marian. I took it. It seemed like something I would really love – everything I loved about the classroom (loving students) without all of the stuff of which I was growing tired (grading papers).

On the day before I was to leave Xela and my Guatemalan Family with whom I lived while I was there, I was given a Mayan Symbol from the women who worked with me at La Paz. They gave me this Symbol based on what they had learned about/from me during my time with them. They presented me with the “Kej,” the stag. According to the Mayan Tradition, the “Kej have great responsibilities with their people, their community; the responsibility of behaving well, of acting well, of analyzing well everything, of being a good father or a good mother, of being a good teacher and of giving good teachings, of knowing to act with rightness.”

My Facebook profile picture shown above shows me writing the final entry in, “Inside.” No one, except my wife (this morning) has read any portion of this journal. Katie knew I learned something about myself in Guatemala, and stayed up with me until 4 a.m. on the evening I got home to hold me while I cried, listen to me while I talked and comforted me as I faced what I knew then was a new part of my life. Yet, I did not know what that meant. This was in 2010. I now know what those feelings were preparing me for. They were preparing me for today.

Below is an excerpt from that last entry in “Inside.” The entry I was writing in the picture above. The last entry I wrote after three weeks of soul searching, prioritizing and praying.

“A pragmatist is one who sees the reality of a situation. Fine. Is the reality of this place, this world, that it is cold? If so, then I am not a pragmatist. Is the reality that this place is beautiful & peace is possible w/o succumbing to the games and rules that govern everything? This is what I believe. I feel something building inside of me. Something I cannot explain. What is this? What is it in my spirit driving all of this? Is it real? I don’t even know anymore. It seems so unreal, yet @ the same time is the most real thing that I have ever felt in my entire life. Impossible to harness – shouldn’t even try. It wants out. And it is held inside by the games. The rules. Not made by the Spirit. In fact, the spirit does not even speak the same language as the rule-makers. I am beginning to understand the spirit-language. There aren’t words. Evidenced by the past 3 weeks. This is not touchy feely. In fact, this is so real that it hurts like hell.

These beliefs that now have the ability to fly will certainly not be accepted by all of my friends, family or co-workers. & so persecution ensues. Am I ready? I don’t have a choice.

I have to share this love and I know it is real.

How’d I get here? How’d it come to this?

It’s there and that’s that. So, in closing, my life is changed. For good. If that is not alright w/ all in my life I will love them nonetheless. To everyone else – hop on – here we go. Much love and Peace to these good things.”

(August 6th, 2010)

Now, the current situation in which I find myself is the very last thing I was thinking about when I wrote those words. Regardless, when Katie and I were re-reading them this morning, the Kej chord got struck in my soul once again.

The last bit of that entry is amusing for me to read today. It sounds so “Rambo” of me. When, in reality, this is far more difficult than what I had in mind in August of 2010. I reluctantly, but willingly, accept this new role. As I have said before, I am not surprised that this is happening, and that is precisely why I am disappointed.

Thank you all for helping me to find my way in this ambiguous, but beautiful time. I only hope that all of this has caused sincere and honest discussion around the dinner table, by the water cooler or in the pews. All I really ever wanted to do was get people to think, speak those thoughts to others and make friends. Maybe that is the “spirit language” – honest discussion amongst us humans here on Earth. Maybe all of our differing views on subjects like the environment, education, politics, gay marriage, religion and race all exist to make each one of us better. Maybe it’s time to talk to one another. Better yet, maybe it’s time to listen.

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    My family have been parishioners at SFDS parish for four generations. My grandfather is a graduate of (then) Purcell High School. I currently sit on parish council. I am a wife, a mother, a catholic. I teach my children that they are always to follow their conscious, even when that is hard. We believe in Jesus, and church is how we celebrate our traditions, our church is not our God. Thank you for having the courage of your convictions.

  2. Lauren woods

    Anonymous
    February 11, 2013 at 4:19 am
    My family have been parishioners at SFDS parish for four generations. My grandfather is a graduate of (then) Purcell High School. I currently sit on parish council. I am a wife, a mother, a catholic. I teach my children that they are always to follow their conscious, even when that is hard. We believe in Jesus, and church is how we celebrate our traditions, our church is not our God. Thank you for having the courage of your convictions.

  3. John Drake

    Aside from the issue related to Catholic teaching, I wonder about the credentialsl of any “educator” who would use the construction found in this sentence: “The day Katie and I’s life changed…”

    Wow! I hope English is not your subject.

  4. anonymous

    I have read local articles and your blog. I have heard testimony from students whose lives have been enriched because you chose the mission to influence their lives in a positive way.
    You made the decision to share your talents in a Catholic school because you were called to do so. You made the decision to share your talents in a Catholic setting, knowing that you would earn less than if you were in a public school. You made this decision knowing that you are expected to follow the Church’s teachings.
    I believe in following one’s convictions, even if it goes against the norm. In your situation, you followed your convictions. However, when you openly went against Church teachings by making your beliefs public, you violated the terms of your employment.
    Why was it necessary to put forth your conflicting beliefs in such a public way? Why and why now?
    I applaud you for standing up for your beliefs; every one of us has that right. However, as an employee of the Archdiocese, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot openly reject a Church belief and work in an environment that educates young people about those beliefs. If your beliefs conflict with those of the Catholic Church, you should not be in the environment.
    I truly sense that you are hurting for your students. Were you thinking of them when you publicized your conflicting beliefs? Were you thinking of their families, paying for an education that includes the teachings of the Church, only to find out that one of the school’s leader’s conscience tells him to stand up against the teachings. Do as I say, not as I do? Here’s what the Church teaches; here’s what I believe?
    It’s sad that you have put yourself in such a situation that you must leave your students in the middle of the year. Again, I wonder – Why was it necessary to discuss your thoughts in such a public way and why now?

  5. michelle hodge

    i am in awe! God Bless you for having the courage to stand up for what so many of us feel in our hearts. You are an excellent role model for not only the students you have taught but the parents of those students as well!

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