Saturday, December 17, 2016

Singing with the Angels

“Live close to tears,” said Camus, but maybe he didn’t mean this close. I’m having a hard time these days talking publicly without crying and though I often can muddle through, today I didn’t even try. We had our closing Elementary/Middle Holiday Sing after two intense days of magnificent Holiday Plays (3rd grade One Grain of Rice, 4th-5th Demeter and Persephone),  our 30th annual 8th grade St. George and the Dragon performance and ice skating. And lots of cookies in the kitchen.

So for the last 45 minutes of the 2016 school year, some 200 kids from 1st through 8th grade to see the year out in the best way we know how—singing. The kids were gathered in school families and for 40 glorious minutes, we moved seamlessly from the sublime to the frivolous and back again, from Hanukkah to Winter to Christmas, from American jazz to European carols to Latin American versions, song after song with kids and adults who sing in tune and bring their full spirit to each note.

After a time-stopping Silent Night followed by a stirring Angels We Have Heard on High, there was that moment of silence when the last note faded. That’s when I wanted to say something to mark the moment. But those darn tears wouldn’t let me. Here’s what I would have said:

This is a season for miracles. Every year, nature miraculously brings the light back after the Winter Solstice. And every day of every year, we here at school learn how to let “this little light of mine” shine and then bring all the little lights together, both in the happy days and the times of great darkness.

Every year, some of us celebrate the miracle of oil lasting far longer than it should have. And isn’t it something that we’re all still here together after 50 years starting the next half-century of this beautiful school community? Who could have imagined way back then in 1966?

And as for that miraculous birth and the Star in the East and the Three Wise Men, well, if you ask me, I think that every child born is a miracle worthy of the heavens taking notice and that we each have three wise men and three wise women to greet us, to witness and bless us with gifts. Then we have the rest of our life to use those gifts to their fullest. That’s why we’re here at school. Each of us have to figure out which gifts we got and how to develop them so that we gain the power to bless ourselves and bless others and fill the world with love and beauty. The world will throw everything in our path that it can to stop us, testing us to see how serious we are. Our job is to keep moving forward, one step at a time, even when the night is dark and the path is fraught with danger.

And singing is one way to give us courage and help light our way. Did you feel that just now? Such power we have with nothing but our voice and breath! Isn’t that the most remarkable miracle of all? I felt the angels coming down to listen and join in. They need us to sing their song and we need them to stand with us. Happy Holidays!

That’s what I wanted to say. Instead, I told the kids to hold hands in their school family circle and at the count of three say, “See you next year!! Ha ha! ” They did and they will and on we go. 

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