The Lancaster Mennonite School system has declared today to be a day of gratitude. One of our areas of focus is on all the many people throughout the years who have helped to create what we have as a school, from the people who clean the halls and bathrooms to the people who have donated money for science equipment and buildings to the administrative staff and the students and parents and the teachers and kitchen crew and the volunteers who keep things running smoothly. It’s a huge list, and I want to keep adding and adding to it.. Talk about a complex web of people working together to create something they believe in!
I have been asked to present the chapel service for the middle school this morning–to talk about gratitude. I am going to finish up by giving them some basic “guidelines” for writing gratitude lists. I feel like I am taking you–everyone who reads my lists–along with me.
Here’s my poem for today. One of our model poems for writing was Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Recuerdo” (I didn’t want them just to think of the heaviness of “Conscientious Objector” when they hear her name). We tried writing stanzas about a memory, with four-ish beats and AABBCC rhymes like “Recuerdo.” I only managed one stanza, and then I felt the poem was complete.
You raced up the hill, and leaped into the sky,
swinging higher than the rooftop of the house, and I
caught my breath, watching as you flew
between the earth and heaven. I marveled how you
had no sense of danger, no fear of falling,
just reckless abandon and the wild wind calling.
1. My school. Just like they say the church is not the building but the people inside it, the school is also the living and working people who make it happen.
2. Gratitude Day–Just like setting aside a few moments in the morning to reflect on what I am grateful for, setting aside a day for reflection as a community becomes a group spiritual discipline.
3. Poetry. I love being able to teach Creative Writing, where the work is word-play.
4. Academia. I am incredibly grateful that I found my way back into the world of learning and teaching. I am listening to “The Canterbury Tales” on my daily ride, and I got a little thrill when we came to the part in the prologue where he was describing the clerk. Some old college memory surfaced a couple lines ahead of time, so that I could say along with the reader, “And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.” In the back of my head, I could hear Jay Landis, one of my college English professors, saying it along with us.
5. Birdsong. In this part of the year, I am writing these lists just as day is dawning, and the wing-folk are starting to tune up. I love that their “Get-out-of-my-space-buster!” sounds to us like “Glory, glory!”
May we walk in Beauty!