When you spend a year driving a bus as a part of a national tour to celebrate the gift of Catholic education, you get pretty accustomed to a certain set of questions and comments, many of which could easily lead to a deeper discussion of our experience. However, one response sticks out in particular. Upon hearing my feeble attempt at a brief explanation of what the tour actually was, a solid handful of friends would respond, “So you’re kind of living like a rock star.”
I can see where they’d get this comparison. We did basically live on a tour bus, and we did hop off that bus routinely to throngs of screaming fans (a.k.a. a couple hundred excited children and pre-teens). There was that one time when a random student exclaimed, “I’m never going to wash this hand!” after receiving one of my high fives. Most relevant, though, was that, like the rock stars we were compared to, we knew that “the show must go on.” Things went wrong—windshield wipers broke, schedules were confused, fuel ran low (literally), traffic jammed, the bus got a bit stuck—but the show had to go on.
The only problem with this analogy is that the bus tour was never about the bus. The bus is the attention grabber. We hope eyes were caught all across the country. We hope people noticed the bus and saw where it was going. We pray that people saw that the headlights were pointing toward something bigger. If one chose to follow the path of these headlights, they’d find the much brighter beacons of hope—the Catholic schools of America. They’d see the places where the real rock stars can be found, the places where the show indeed does go on because communities realize that it must. They realize that ensuring the show goes on and schools stay open may be expensive, but that it’s far more costly for them not to.
These schools are places where we had the great privilege of seeing teachers, students, administrators, and parents fighting valiantly and joyfully to continue to uphold a tradition of faith-based academic excellence. These places, mind you, are far from perfect. Like the bus, they had cosmetic issues, were sometimes running low on the resources needed to keep going, and even experienced periods of feeling confused or stuck; but the show was going on. If you’re reading this, I imagine you’d agree that the children of our nation deserve thriving schools, and the large and small hiccups simply cannot get in the way.
I guess the bus got to play a role after all. This bus tour was a visible way to stand up and say to the world (and any one who doubts the urgent necessity of these sacred spaces we call Catholic schools), “No! The show MUST go on!”