This article continues a series in which we are exploring practices that can help each of us and our students to develop a space for grace. My last article focused on growing in gratitude and listed some practices that can spiritually strengthen us. Today we will focus on releasing regrets so that we can rest and reset.
Releasing regrets is one of the keys to interior freedom and peace. Making peace with ourselves is often harder than making peace with others, as it is often the weight of our own thoughts or regrets of the heart that imprison us. What we hold onto tightly can weigh us down, especially when we hold negative thoughts and experiences. Two keys to releasing regrets are reflection and reconciliation.
Reflection. In contrast to the wider world, where power and strength are exalted, we are reminded through faith that it is in our weakness that we are made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is in our sensitivity and vulnerability that we are made for greatness. It is in the times of the greatest darkness that the light of God’s hope shines even brighter. Take time with young people to reflect on specific Bible passages that speak to God’s light in the midst of challenges, such as John 16:33: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
Reconciliation. One of the best practices for releasing regrets is to be found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the sacrament, we are brought into intimate contact with Jesus and are liberated from the sins that trouble our hearts and minds. Although hard, we take the step of acknowledging our weaknesses and are given a fresh start. Talking about Reconciliation can be helpful in removing barriers for students hesitant to celebrate the sacrament. Making an examination of conscience and reflecting on the words of the Act of Contrition can be meaningful experiences as part of a session on the sacrament.
Rest and Reset
Just as our body and mind need rest, so does our spirit. Rest is not simply about the absence of noise or distractions. It is a state in which our body is in pause, and our mind is at peace. Rest is essential for our spiritual growth, and we can incorporate times for rest, prayer, and reflection in our classrooms.
Restful Reading. Use the simple format of “Read, Reflect, Pray, Respond” to break up the format of classroom reading time. This methodology works as follows: read a little bit of text; invite the participants to reflect upon what it means; pray; and then invite responses to the information provided. This echoes the ancient practice of lectio divina. The goal is to receive the gift of new insights from God through attentive listening.
Mass. One of the best ways to rest and reset is to attend Mass, particularly Sunday Mass. On the first day of the week, Sunday Mass starts us anew. Speak to students about the importance of Sunday Mass, and share specifically how Mass helps in resetting for the week ahead.
Peace. Another simple practice is to exchange the sign of peace as a regular part of classroom routines, if safe to do so. Reflect upon what it means to be a people of peace and to find interior peace.
Do you have practices that have helped you to release regrets and to rest and reset? Have you come across any specific exercises or prayers that have helped with this?