When Mick Jagger was a much younger man, he let it be known that “you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” Many of us live that reality regularly. Spiritualists might twist his lyrics a bit to profess that God knows what we need more than we do.
Each of us holds hopes, desires, goals and benchmarks for various aspects of our lives; even the most successful among us possess standards we don’t meet and dreams we don’t realize. When I was sent to Saint Charles Parish three years ago to contend with a school on the brink of closure, parishioners wanted to try anything to keep it open. Since we couldn’t succeed as a neighborhood parish school we restructured it to become a classical liberal arts academy. We set benchmarks for enrollment increases over a three-year period. Entering the third academic year of the new model, we are not meeting those goals. It’s not what I want but Jagger could be right: I might just find it’s what I need, maybe even what my community needs.
Our kindergarten through eighth grade census grew from 117 to 149 to 161 but with school starting tomorrow it looks like our enrollment may drop by a few students this year. We had hoped to grow to over 175 by this time because we need growth to become financially solvent. That bad news is balanced by some good news: our preschool, which had only twenty children three years ago, now has thirty-nine. It’s a sign that we’re holding steady but I’ll admit, it’s a big disappointment to me that, after much hard work to recruit, we’re not matriculating down the field of play or increasing according to our sustainability game plan. Though not a rolling stone, we might be a rock that needs to sit still for a minute to digest where we’ve been and where we’re going. Though I can’t always get what I want, I will keep trying and trust that God knows what I need more than I do—at least I hope that’s what I might just find.
I also need to remember that this isn’t about me. It’s about helping to usher in the kingdom of God here at Saint Charles Parish and Borromeo Academy. It’s about receiving and sharing the Holy Spirit to guide us along our journey. It’s about being enriched with the energy of God’s grace and the tremendous aspects of a remarkable education model. It’s about uniting a community of worshipers to work together to pass along to the next generation the best aspects of our faith and put that faith into action through service outreach and praise of God. As I look at our parish membership that is growing and see ample evidence of a lively and abounding faith surrounding us, I realize that the Spirit of God is working in our midst and encouraging our purpose and mission. Christ is the cornerstone of our structure and we are living stones that build upon His firm foundation.
Even though I can’t always get what I want and won’t always reach the benchmarks I set or realize the goals I desire, I’ll keep trying and might just find I get what I need.