From the Head MasterLucas Thurston
There was a time when we longed for rain. I imagine that most parents of the School can remember the Millennium drought, which is considered to have extended from 1997 to 2009, when rainfall over southern and eastern Australia was low, year after year. We experienced long-term drying of landscape and vegetation and depletion of our water resources. We weren’t allowed to water lawns, long showers were morally suspect, and even topping up the backyard pool was best done under the cover of darkness. Whenever we had some rain, it was usually accompanied by the observation that it did not fall in the catchment of our dams. We even got to the point of constructing the desalination plant, because we had no confidence that rain would come.
At that point in time, we shared a perspective that is known to people in arid climates around the globe. Rain is a blessing to pray for! I do not intend to suggest that it is somehow magical or beyond understanding. We know a lot about the processes that lead to rain – evaporation and condensation and coalescence. We understand the water cycle and we can decode many (but not all) of the forces in play that bring our weather, but we should not lose sight of the fact that rain really is extraordinary.
In order for rain to fall, billions of tonnes of water are lifted from the sea, leaving the salt behind, and carried through the sky for hundreds or thousands of kilometres before forming into drops that are large enough to fall but small enough not to obliterate the matter on which they land. Rain nourishes and renews the face of the earth, providing us with an environment in which life is possible. Rain really is remarkable.
Of course, this year – which is officially the wettest on record in Sydney – we have long stopped yearning for the rain as we did in the Millenium drought. We have had enough! This year, the rain has been a disruptive and destructive force. For all of us, the rain has been an inconvenience. For many of us, the rain has frustrated plans and priorities. For some of us, the rain has brought devastation and even the loss of life. We are ready for the rain to stop!
In the life of the School, the rain has been immensely frustrating. Many of our usual activities have been prevented from taking place, particularly in the co-curricular activities of the School. Even matters as simple as getting to school have been made challenging, as more of us choose private transport, but the roads consequently become more congested.
However, from my point of view, the major frustration experienced at the School has had to do with our construction plans and progress. The rain has slowed our work down significantly, to the point that we now expect more of the current work underway to be finished late in Term 1 2023, rather than before the start of the School year. Whilst this is an inconvenience that we will manage, as we have done with the inconveniences so far, it is frustrating. Forecasts that the wet weather is due to continue only amplifies the sense of frustration.
In reflecting on the rain, I have been reminded that there remain factors in life that are beyond our control. In modern society, we tend to buy into the expectation that things should work the way we want them to. It is a reasonable expectation for a television or a car, but it is evidently unrealistic for the weather. The weather humbles us, because it is not subject to our control.
It is no bad thing for us to be reminded that not everything goes the way that we want. While we can’t control what happens to us or around us, we can learn to control how we respond. It is a good lesson in the playground, on the sporting field, in the classroom and in the examination hall. Learning it early in life will help our boys to manage the frustrations, disappointments, and difficulties that they will encounter as adults. The rain can be a valuable learning experience.
The rain reminds me of the limits of my power. It reminds me that I am dependent on factors beyond my control. It reminds me that the universe does not dance to the tune that I want to play. Viewed in that light, the rain reminds me that I am not God!
Consequently, I find myself praying to God that the rain will stop. But I also find myself praying that I will have the humility and patience to be faithful, even when frustrated!
Detur gloria soli Deo
Tim Bowden | Head Master