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Friday, February 7, 2014

We've Got Spirit!

Last week we had an all-day all-school "Faith Rally" which I'm sure I can't describe quite right to do it all justice. I'll try: imagine the best of a week of vacation bible school moments rolled into one day. With fantastic music. It is Nashville!

Uniforms were kept tucked in drawers and out came matching t-shirt and jeans. (Those are the outfits they wore in the photo above but as you might gather, that snap was from the fall. It is frosty here now.) While much of the day was filled with quiet worship, reflection and prayer, there was also great, noisy rejoicing, singing and dancing. More than a few times I had to turn away from hundreds of smiling little faces joining together in songs of praise - adorable hand motions and all. I kept my trusty red bandana in my back pocket. It is so moving being with happy, spirited children.

We were broken into groups with kids from all grades sprinkled in together. And everyone's favorite - the 8th graders paired with their kindergarten buddies and the 5th graders with theirs. So many times I saw students helping and modeling their best in a way that parents and teachers didn't have to do anything but stand back and watch them work together.

A theme of the day was "vocations" and we heard from a Dominican sister (their order is the heart of our school) and a priest about how they were called to their religious life. We also talked about how many ways people around us serve and do good work. It made my family think so much about the Sisters and how fortunate we are to be the beneficiaries of their devoted service. It is really awe inspiring. I recently heard Ann Patchett (a former Nashville Catholic school girl herself, I think) in an interesting discussion of the women who dedicate their lives to teaching as sisters and nuns. I'll try to find it someday. It was on NPR, of course. (I'm telling you, I'm in the car. A lot.)

It is often hard to slow down enough time to reflect and the Faith Rally was just that. A day to focus on what really matters. You'll love that even Baby Sister's tiny class was involved. When over 800 of us (students, faculty, staff, parent volunteers) were gathered to sing and dance in the gym at one point, the 14 of them were watching (and dancing - they'd learned the songs, too!) from a second story overlooking the crowd. They were fully part of it but not in the throng. A special part of the day was a dark and quiet prayer. Lights dimmed. Soft music. Kneeling. Baby Sister told me when all of the groups had gone, just her little class tip toed in and did their own devotion. I have to think the Holy Spirit shone a bit brighter after hearing those prayers.

The day was the culmination of a week of spirited activities. A bit high school homecoming week. My favorites being "Parent Appreciation Day" and "Student Appreciation Day." I love a theme.
So on the day we appreciated the students, mine awoke to their pig and various tigers on their breakfast bar. Of course.

Balloons, themed plates, fun treats packed in lunches. Pom poms, too. And would you know this all happened on the same week as Candlemas? Something we'd not celebrated until we moved to London and were treated to new and beautiful traditions. Also amazing crepes. So in all this reflecting, I think that as hard as coming and going and parachuting in and out of places has been, we are so fortunate. Blessed. Because in - and by - each place, we are greatly enriched by being able to share in traditions that we'll carry with us. Traditions that will become part of our family's journey, our narrative, soundtrack and snapshots. These things that will leave imprints on us.

The kids must think it is great fortune that their school mascot is a tiger and thus, Frosted Flakes for breakfast. But it seems to me like true providence that they get to go to school altogether again. That they share so many teachers and friends and that we've been again embraced by a loving community. It gives us a real strength of spirit.

And you would have felt it, too had you'd seen Biggest Brother getting his groove on in the gym!

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