Principals on the Prayer Line

Analytical psychologist Carl Jung introduced the concept of ‘synchronicity’ in the 1920’s as the principle of “meaningful coincidences”. Nothing that occurs in our complex lives is an accident. Events that have no causal relationship are meaningfully related. My most recent experience with synchronicity occurred as I joined a conference call with fellow principals in our metro-Atlanta school district.

Our district has been going through a major transition in recent weeks. The superintendent and the district recently severed their ties six months earlier than expected. We met the interim superintendent on the previous week during an administrators meeting. As the Thanksgiving Break looms in near future, principals are scrambling to complete the required observations of teachers by the November 29th deadline. Fortunately, our regional superintendent understands the urgency of the time and honors that by arranging a conference call to share some important information in lieu of a meeting.

The conference call had been scheduled for 9:30, giving me enough time to do a few observations before returning to my office to join the call. I checked my phone and dialed the number that had been sent to us via text by the regional superintendent. After a prompt, I entered the access code to join the conference. A recorded voice says, “Please announce yourself”. I say, “Andre Mountain, Marbut Elementary”. Within seconds, I’m hearing a list of other principals joining the call. I can hear the regional superintendent on the call listing the names of those of us who had already joined and making sure we were all accounted for. In the midst of his roll call and the intermittent tone of others joining the call there was a woman’s voice that began to become more salient. “Father God, we come to you in need of your blessing and your favor, Father God.” Everyone is silent, and the regional superintendent reminds us, “Principals, please mute your phones”. Everyone mutes their phones, causing the voice of woman to become noticeably louder. In seconds it becomes clear what we are hearing.

“Father God, we thank you for your grace and mercy. Father God, watch over our families, our children, our sick loved ones. Father God, we know you are here with us. Father God, bless our children as they move through this community, Father God. These people are out here harming our babies, Father God. We need your guidance Father God. Help us, Father God, guide our steps. We thank you Father God…”

As we are listening, we are all trying to recognize the voice of this mysterious prayer leader. It sounded like an older woman who was an experienced prayer leader. Was one of the principals praying and possibly forgot to mute her phone? I started trying to figure out who it could be…Principal Davis? Principal Goolsby? I texted Mrs. Davis, “I hear a prayer.” She texts back, “Me too.” By this time, the regional superintendent has stopped talking because the voice of the prayer had become the dominant voice on the call. The automated voice began to announce principals as they left the conference call. I hesitated to leave because I was beginning to connect to the prayer.

Somehow, instead of dialing in to our region’s conference call, we’d all dialed in to a prayer line and heard exactly what we needed to hear to launch our work for the day. Fifteen school leaders were on the receiving end of a prayer for our schools, families and our communities. It was not what we’d planned to hear, but it was what we all needed at a moment when we are entering a season where giving thanks is celebrated. It was a wrong number at the perfect moment when the backdrop of our work in schools is impacted by the tensions of leadership transitions, test scores, and violence in our community. Synchronicity, as Carl Jung describes it, is about finding purpose in “meaningful coincidences”. Professor Roderick Main suggests that “meaningful coincidences re-connect us to our spiritually alive surroundings.”

After reluctantly leaving the prayer, I noticed that the regional superintendent sent us a group text message.

He wrote, “Will try to get another group call number. You can end the initial call.”

I texted, “Amen.”

Another principal texted, “Thank you Father God.”

Published by Andre Benito Mountain

Andre Benito Mountain is an elementary principal in the metro-Atlanta area. He is the founder of Def-ED Clothing and the author of The Brilliance Beneath (2016), "The Mountain Principles" (2018) and "Principals Don't Walk on Water" (2020) . His forthcoming book is "Virtually Lost" (2021).

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