Proverbs 24:3-4 By wisdom a house is built. And by understanding, it is established. And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Today I woke up in my house in Mclean, brushed my teeth, showered, ate breakfast, and then got in my car and came home. I say this not purely in a sentimental, end-of-a-Lifetime movie way, but in mathematical truth. In the most technical sense, home is the place where you spend the most amount of time. Of course, this is an extremely limited description- I consider a home to be the place where you’re most comfortable, and that would be true in this case as well. But assuming the technical statute is in fact valid, I’m fairly close to calling St. Albans my place of residence. If we examine Value A, time spent at school during the day, and subtract it from Subset Z, amount of time in the day, you will notice that the resulting value, Value B (time at home), is less than Value A. You will also notice that I don’t really understand math. All of this is a fancy way of saying I spend a lot of time at school. I’ve talked to Mr. Baad about setting up a tent on the roof of Marriott Hall and making STA my legal place of residence, but sadly was turned down.
After this realization, I tried to track my increasing amount of time spent at school over the past 3 years. Naturally, I arrive at school every day at about 8:05. Yes, I said 8:05. We all have problems we need to work on. I’ve always had class all day, although the number of Chipotle free-period outings has certainly increased with the addition of a license, age, and freedom to go off campus. And I’ve always had sports at the end of every day, just like every other student. Freshmen year, the things that kept me at school late were limited to FOCUS, messing around after practice, and a sister who clearly did not love me enough to pick me up on time. However, as the years pass, involvement in each aspect has grown deeper and time commitments have grown longer. Classes become more intense, heaping on homework. Sometimes it makes more sense to just stay at school and do it. JV sports turn into varsity sports, stretching past 6:00, even 6:30. Extracurricular activities become passions, requiring post-sports meetings and even weekend visits. Add in a musical and sooner or later you’re at school everyday until 9:00. On average, that’s more time spent at school than at home, sleep included.
If you went back now and told me as a minuscule eighth grader going home at 3:30 that I would one day be spending the majority of my hours at school, I would’ve been very upset, and also asked you how time travel works. If you told me that I loved it that way, I would have been dumbfounded. What about my life? I would have asked. What about my friends? I want to have fun. Furthermore, how will I grow? School is a place of learning, of formulas and grammar. It’s where you find out the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell! Not where you discover what powers you.
St. Albans has been the answer to these questions. I don’t know if I would have grasped that in eighth grade, or even last year. It is only when I sit down and begin to think about my interaction with this place, what it has given me, what I have given it, what it has taken and what I have taken, the morals instilled and the brothers made, that I truly begin to realize that St. Albans is my home, just as it is home for every teacher and student sitting here today. Beyond a simple number of hours, St. Albans has become the place where I belong in every way.
My life takes place here, in the classrooms, the refectory, the fields, and beyond. Your classmates teach you as much as your teachers do. The things you learn will not only be physical. The way I think, my sense of wrong and right, the way I speak and act are all guided by this school. It’s impossible to spend as much time in a place as we do here and not be shaped by it.
I’ve changed in countless ways when I’m not even looking. When I pay attention closely, I see each input from the people around me. Strength, wisdom, humor are absorbed, personalized, and sent out once again in a never-ending feedback loop.
And yes, it is fun, as my eighth grade self worried so deeply about. Table questions, pushing each other around in the hallways, joking with your friends, running, laughing, struggling together. It is also not fun. Failing a precal test, standing in line for food, shivering outside after another workout on a dark winter day. It’s not always easy (in fact, it rarely is) and it’s not a guarantee of 24/7 happiness. This place offers countless opportunity, but it often forces it on us in order to help us grow. It gives us these things so that we can react. Solve. Move on with confidence.
Of course, just like every home, a component of it reacts to what you put in and it is what you make it. If you treat your house with no love, trashing it, and sit in your room by yourself every day, your family probably won’t feel very affectionate towards you. They will still love you, but your lack of respect will hurt your home.
Just as a home shelters and nurtures you, you have to give back. It builds you and you build it. As I mentioned, your friends help shape you. At the same time, remember your role in shaping them. The reward in this is remembering the people around you will uphold the same responsibility.
As I enter my senior year, each room holds special memories and messages for me, as they do for us all. The choices that I made even freshman year, good or bad, still reverberate around me, bouncing off the steel, glass, and stone. These buildings have seen who we were, who we are, and as time goes on, who we will be. Of course, even writing this I’m not sure what that will mean at the end of the year. I’m still changing. As Caillou once poignantly and eloquently stated, “I’m just a kid who’s four/Each day I grow some more.”
St. Albans is a place you can turn to and it is a place that will always be open for you. Together, our interactions with these buildings make this place St. Albans. This is your house. Learn from it. Come to know this place and it will become your home. Fill these rooms with riches. Take what it gives you and build it. Welcome home.
Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord.