December 2015, Theme: “Embody”

April 1, 2016

Join us this 2015-2016 academic year, as we take time each month to reflect on a theme as a learning community. Hear from faculty and staff in a personal reflection on the theme, as they consider how the concept applies to their life and work. See here for an overview of these themes, which will also be highlighted in each month's school e-newsletter.

The theme for our school community this December 2015 is "Embody." What does it look like to embody our values? In this season of celebration, how can we embody a warm welcome to loved ones, strangers, and the Divine?

Download (& save or print!) a PDF of this December calendar, Dec-theme-calendar-pdf.

Catherine Smith has written this month's personal reflection--speaking from from the heart about how she has considered the theme. Catherine is a staff member at the school, supporting Ecumenical & Interreligious Dialogue.

Personal Reflection on the Theme, "Embody"

By Catherine Smith

The instant I received the invitation to reflect on the word "embody," I knew what I had to say. I knew exactly where to go to help me say it, straight to my favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins—an English Jesuit priest-poet who lived from 1844-1889—speaks eloquently about embodiment in a poem entitled As Kingfishers Catch Fire.

I love this particular sonnet because it embodies all I truly believe, thanks in great part to Sisters Priscilla, Florentia, and Cabrini who taught me in grammar school. Each in her way taught me to see the Divine in others.  Each taught me not to judge—or tried to teach me something about that rare virtue, and in second grade my classmates and I learned to shout out and repeat often:  “Good, better, best, never let it rest until the good becomes the better and the better is the best.” These simple teachings set a foundation for embodying respect, love, and excellence.

To capture the essence of embodiment in the Hopkins poem, I’ve bypassed the first four lines of the sonnet, even though they are rich in images, to get straight to the thesis:


Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying whát I dó is me: for that I came.  

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.