The end of another school year – Taking time to pause and reflect

The old year runs away from me

I hang on to her sleeve

But she shakes me loose

Where does the old year go…

I’m sure many of us want to shut our chapel and classroom doors and move into holiday mode without much consideration for the past year. The opening verses from Joyce Rupp’s poem ‘The Old Year Runs away from Me’ invite us to take stock of the year so that we can celebrate our successes, name our challenges, lay aside our differences and be grateful for the growth and learning that has taken place in us.

As we approach the end of the school year, I share with you some reflection questions and symbols that I have used for personal reflection and with staff to gain insights, bring closure, and take our learnings into a new school year.

My favourite resource for reflections on the end and beginning of the year is Joyce Rupp’s book ‘Out of the Ordinary.’ The following questions have been taken and adapted from her section titled The New Year.

Reflection questions for 2023

As you look back on the year just completed:

What name, image or metaphor would you give to your journey?

What were some of your epiphanies of the past year.

How did you grow because of them?

Who were your wise persons and how did they influence your life?

Did any of your hopes and dreams become your reality?

What was most satisfying about the year?

What was the most least satisfying?

What are you most grateful for this year?

Where was your God in 2023?

How did God sustain and uphold you?

Prayers for those you have journeyed with this year:

Place your hands in your lap, palms up and open.

Bring to mind those people and events of the past year:

…your loved ones

…your colleagues and co-workers

…your students and those you were responsible for

…those who you are still concerned for

…those you have had differences and struggles with

…anyone else or anything that comes to your mind or heart.

Offer prayers of gratitude and petition for these people and events.

Using the below items or items of your choice prepare gift bags for your colleagues so that they can have a visual reminder of their years accomplishments and their hopes for the coming year.  

 2023 Year End & 2024 Reflection
PopperWhat events or activities would you like to celebrate this year?
RockWho has kept you grounded this year and been a rock for you?
Kit-Kat & Tea Bag Where did you find rest & relaxation in 2023?                                                              
FeatherWhat are the things that you have learnt to hold lightly this year?
DiamondWhere have you sparkled and shone this year?
ShellWhere or how have your experienced God’s sustaining presence & love this year?
Love heartAcknowledgement of friends and family, your journey with them and what they mean to you.
Bible Verse‘Create in me a _____ heart, and renew in me a right spirit’ What word/s would you like to insert into this bible verse to sustain and uphold?
PlaqueYour hopes and prayers for 2024

A Prayer for the New Year by Joyce Rupp

Faithful Companion

In this new year I pray:

To live deeply, with purpose,

to live freely, with detachment,

to live wisely, with humility,

to live justly, with compassion,

to live mindfully, with awareness,

to live gratefully, with generosity,

to live fully, with enthusiasm.

May I hold to this vision

and to daily renew it in my heart

becoming ever more one with you my truest self. 

Tracey Gracey Written by:

Tracey is the School Chaplain for St Peter’s Woodlands and Associate Priest at St Peter’s, Glenelg. She is also the Senior Chaplain for Anglican Schools (SA). Tracey has enjoyed being in school ministry for the past 13 years, where she has been a part-time chaplain at Walford Anglican School for Girls and a full-time chaplain at Pulteney Grammar. Tracey is now enjoying working in team ministry with her colleague and Rector of St Peter’s, Glenelg, Andrew Mintern, where both priests are using their gifts to enhance the school's spiritual life and build relationships with the school community and parish.

One Comment

  1. Andrew Mintern
    December 5, 2023

    That’s so helpful Tracey. Great to be working with you and this will be really useful for our end of year Staff Service.

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