“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

The question-and-answer sequence is simple: 
           “Faller ready?” they ask in unison.
           “Ready to fall,” I respond.
           “Fall away,” they shout back, knees braced-but-bending beneath a waiting row of 16 interlocked arms.
           “Falling,” I say, eyes closed, hands tight to my chest.

I lean backwards from my perch near the top step of a six-foot ladder … drop… and 16 interlocked arms from 8 members of our senior class catch me. I’ve completed my annual trust fall! Each member of the team has his turn. For 25 years I’ve enjoyed this little ritual, one of the activities during the “Outward Bound” portion of our MCLI – Malden Catholic Leadership Institute. (Current students have a little more of me to catch today than those 25 years ago!)  And so far, so good! The students are 25-for-25 at catching the Principal! After having done it once successfully, I’ve had no reservation about falling off a ladder into ready arms. But it’s fascinating to me to watch some of our first-time seniors quite reluctant to venture much higher than the second rung of the ladder, and even then, a bit fearful about letting go.

If they don’t do it right, they make it tough for the team to catch them! The idea is that the “faller” stand tall, lock his knees, and go straight back, so his weight is evenly distributed across the receiving arms. If he “pikes” – bends the knees and sort-of just sits down – he leaves it pretty much up to the poor two guys at the base of the ladder to stop his fall!

“Trust” is part of the DNA of Malden Catholic, as it is for the Xaverian Brothers, one of whose mottos is “March on, God will provide.” Along with “simplicity, humility, compassion, and zeal,” trust is one of our Xaverian spiritual values, the social bond that prompts us to work together with confidence.

These are days for standing tall, catching when we need to, letting go when it’s our turn. We can be sure there’s a loving God at the foot of the ladder. In the days ahead, it’s likely that “leaning on our own understanding” won’t always give us the answers we want, but trust in God will always serve us well.  

With that thought in mind, let us pray today from “The Psalm of David” those words that gave him strength:
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;…
Show me your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:1-2, 4-5)