The importance of presence
As this year has played out, I have often thought of those students who were new to a school in 2020. All the Preps, all the year 7’s in our secondary schools and any students who have come in from outside the community into what we describe as a non-traditional intake year.
While it feels like a lifetime ago, I can vividly remember running induction programs for these new students at the start of each term in schools where I oversaw the pastoral care programs. Being both naturally shy and a classic introvert myself, I knew intimately how important it was that this role was carried out successfully. Some students made friends and connections with peers naturally very easily and rapidly. Others found it incredibly challenging. I was one of the latter, and so knew what it felt like to be isolated and disconnected from others.
In 2020, how much harder must it be to form those connections and relationships where isolation and social distancing is the norm. The Preps had barely settled into a routine earlier this year when they were sent back home to learn, away from the peers they were just starting to get to know.
And as challenging as it has been for us in Queensland, spare a thought for children in Victoria who have had less than 8 weeks together for the entire year. Many will be literally starting from scratch to form relationships with peers when they are permitted to return to face-to-face teaching next Monday… in mid-October!
Forming relationships without being present is nigh on impossible. Maintaining them, just as hard. And so it is for our relationship with our loving God. Being present to Him is vital. Because we have been promised that even in a pandemic, He is present to us.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.