Something I Learned in School.


I’ve been sharing this poem by John Phillip Newell, the former director of the Iona Community, a lot lately.  Newell has a particularly remarkable way of picturing Hope.


Thanks Be to You

In lives where love has been born this day

thanks be to you, O God.

In families where forgiveness has been strong

thanks be to you.

In nations where wrongs have been addressed

where tenderness has been cherished

and where visions for earth’s oneness have been served

thanks be to you.

May those who are weary find rest this night.

May those who carry great burdens for their people find strength.

May the midwives of new beginnings in our world find hope.

And may the least among us find greatness

strength in our souls

worth in our words

love in our living.


May the midwives of new beginnings in our world find hope.

Isn’t that wonderful? Living in Hope is my permanent address. And I love—really love—to provide gentle, sustained encouragement to support new beginnings.

May is graduation month. Talk about new beginnings. So full of promise. And may I suggest that offers the invitation to pause and think about what you learned in school?

Once I was an assistant in a university classroom where one of my jobs was to ask questions to support students to clarify the basics of what they were learning. My mentor provided punctuation at the end of the class in the form of a daily two-minute journal activity.  Students were instructed to write a brief response to reflect on what they had just learned. Some days he put the following writing prompts on the board:


Now what?

So what?


 Your turn.

Consider taking a minute to stop and reflect on this poem. If it’s your practice, write your responses. Or not. You don’t have to know it for the test and you aren’t being graded.

 What? What’s your takeaway? Are there phrases or words that stand out or resonate?

 So what? Why does it matter? You know, REALLY matter?

 Now what? How are you called to respond to what you have just learned?


School’s out. Hope’s in.

 And from St. Benedict: Always we begin again.