Now in my third year here at All Saints’, I remain continually impressed and inspired by the power of The All Saints’ Way. Rarely have I seen a value statement have as much real influence in the daily life of a school as The All Saints’ Way does at ours.
The All Saints’ Way begins with these words: All Saints’ Episcopal Day School is a community which strives to create an academic, social, and spiritual climate where people learn, work, and play together with respect, responsibility, and understanding. The complete statement can be found on our website in the About Us section, and I peruse it on a regular basis. The All Saints’ Way is meant to be comprehensive in addressing all that happens in our lives on a daily basis. It is also intended to be comprehensive since it applies to everyone in our community: students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and friends.
The All Saints’ Way is invoked regularly to inspire each of us at our school to live our lives in the light of God, always to express our best selves in endeavors large and small, to make sure that everyone is always included in our community life. Together is a critical word in that first sentence.
The All Saints’ Way is also invoked regularly to remind us when we fall short of the ideals it so eloquently expresses. Recently we had the opportunity to combine inspiration and reminder when an incident occurred in our middle school involving language anonymously scrawled hate speech in a student’s folder. All our middle school students were given a chance to reflect on that incident even though there was only one unidentified person responsible. It was most heartening that so many students immediately invoked The All Saints’ Way in expressing their sadness and distress at what had taken place.
This above was a dramatic moment when The All Saints’ Way was so important for us. But it is also critical in the ordinary moments of our community life. I recently came across this quotation from the noted American humorist Will Rogers: So live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip. The observation brought more than a smile to my face; it also reminded me of The All Saints’ Way. If we embrace it, we shall never be ashamed for our words to be heard by anyone- most especially our students.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Until next time…
I have had several major reminders this year that my life is moving right along- and happily so. A very practical reminder was the celebration of my Medicare-eligibility birthday a couple months ago. Of course I am delighted to be fully and happily engaged in life and going strong. Being a part of the All Saints’ community certainly contributes to my sense of engagement and enthusiasm.
The more poignant reminders occurred at each end of the generational spectrum. The newest member of the next generation of my family arrived in early October as my great niece gave birth to a son. I may not be as amazed as my sister- Isaac’s great-grandmother- at this event, but I found myself a bit flabbergasted that this generational moment had already arrived. That was quickly followed by profound joy that our family had been blessed with this new generation and the confident hope that the generations would continue long after Isaac’s.
At the beginning of November the last close relative of my mother’s generation died. She was actually my mother’s first cousin, but my siblings and I always regarded her as one of our very favorite aunts. Ellen lived a happy and holy life; she was as kind a person as I have ever had the joy of knowing well. At age 89 she was more than ready to let go of this life. Appropriately enough, she died on All Saints’ Day. Jan and I were amused that her obituary requested donations to a convent of contemplative Roman Catholic nuns, surmising that the nuns might be the few persons whose prayers might have been more frequent than Ellen’s. My primary emotion after Ellen’s death was gratitude, but I certainly also experienced a sense of loss that my last family role model in the generation ahead of me was no longer with us here on earth. At the same time I felt a greater sense of responsibility and opportunity to aspire to be a helpful model for those generations coming behind.
Last week Jan and I spent the Thanksgiving Day holiday with our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren in Michigan. This was our first opportunity to check in with our oldest grandchild since he began his college career a few months ago. That was of course another “where did the time go?” moment as was being passengers in cars driven by grandchildren whom we carried in our arms not very long ago. How exhilarating it is to observe these moments and milestones in the lives of people we love so deeply.
Schools, like families, are multi-generational realities. We at All Saints’ have been blessed by the generosity, dedication and hard work of those who have come before us. We at All Saints’ have the wonderful chance to preserve and enhance those blessings for those who come here long after we are gone. I love the view of my life, my family, and my school from my generational perspective.
Until next time…