As I drove to school this morning I was drawn to thinking about thresholds, the space between what is and what is to come. The notion of ‘thresholds’ has significance for us with our Brigidne tradition, as legend says that St Brigid was born on the threshold. The story goes that Brigid’s mother worked in the dairy of her master’s household and that she gave birth at dawn on the morning of February 1, precisely at the moment she was stepping over the threshold into the dairy. St Brigid is very much a child of the thresholds: she was born neither in the day or the night, neither the winter nor the spring (February 1 corresponds to an ancient holiday that marked the change of the seasons), neither indoors nor outdoors, neither slave nor free.
Today we crossed the threshold to return onsite as a College community having been remote for the better part of Term 3. Again, we lit ‘our hearth, our flame’ to welcome all back to this space. Thresholds give us the space to reflect on where we have been and all that lays before us. It is a space where we can take the best of what has been and step forward with clarity into newness and opportunity.
I had that sense today as our Year 12s returned and no doubt it will feel similar tomorrow as all students return on site. We are not the same people; it is not the same world. We have been shaped and formed by this global shared experience. We have had our values and priorities re-evaluated. All of us have a choice as to how we will choose to be in light of this experience. For our Class of 2020, they can choose to embrace all that we stand for as women of ‘strength and kindliness’ and embrace the time they have with us, the learning opportunities and the chance to cherish their final weeks with us. We know it will look different and yet in this difference they are creating history.
Today each Year 12 received a letter from an Old Collegian. When we sent out the invitation for our old collegian community to share a message of hope and inspiration to our Class of 2020, we were overwhelmed with the response.
These messages were such a powerful symbol of all it means to be a Clonard student, whether you are in Year 7 or an old collegian of our Foundation Class. They wrote:
Rest assured your years at Clonard will hold you in good stead. The motto of “Strength and Kindliness” is admirable and should be pursued. More than 25 years on, I don’t see my old high school friends very often. But I am proud of each one of them. Not because of their jobs or their academic pursuits but because of the people they have become. They are people who care about people and the world we live in. I truly believe the environment of Clonard encouraged that behaviour and the pursuit of justice for all. Bryanna Borg, Class of 1993
I hope you will leave Clonard with many happy memories and friends you will keep forever. I feel lucky to say this was the case for me and whenever I hear our year 12 song “girls just wanna have fun” I smile and sing along. Rebecca Greaves, Class of 2001
From experience, you will never stray too far from the Clonard years. They will determine to a large extent the person you become. Among my best friends are the girls I met at Clonard. We spent our formative years at Clonard College, Geelong. We will wear this like a second skin to which much is added over the years. Mary Delaney, Class of 1964
I am a foundation student of Clonard, way back in 1956. I was never a top student, never the best sporting student, but quiet in manner and personality. Clonard taught me to try, to try my best no matter what and I still do. Carlene Bolden, Foundation student
You are in a privileged position to have experienced the education and variety of things that Clonard has exposed you to. With this comes a special power that you can keep growing to make your mark on the world and leave the people you meet a little richer for having known you. Thuy Hoang, Class of 1997
My prayer is that as our students cross the threshold and return they bring a greater appreciation of all that is good about our College and an even stronger commitment to embody what we value and how this can be expressed in their day to day lives both at school and beyond our gates.
I leave you with this Prayer at the Threshold written by Jan L. Richardson
And so we take the ragged fragments,
the patches of darkness
that give shape to the light;
the scraps of desires
unslaked or realized;
the memories of spaces
of blessing, of pain.
And so we gather the scattered pieces
the hopes we carry
fractured or whole;
the struggles of birthing
the places of welcome
that bring healing and life.
And so we lay them at the threshold, God;
bid you hold them, bless them, use them;
ask you tend them, mend them,
to keep us warm,
make us whole, and send us forth.