(The following homily was given at Petra Academy’s All Saints’ Feast.)
All Saints’ Day is a holy day that the Orthodox church traces back to church father John Chrysostom in the 4th century as a recognition of saints – many of whom were martyrs – celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Parthenon at Rome to Mary and the martyrs, initiated the practice in the Catholic church in 609 A.D. before Pope Gregory III officially established the holy day on November 1 in the mid-eighth century.
Historically, Catholic churches have thought of “saints” as those officially canonized or “made” saints by the church, but in the Orthodox church, as well as in many Protestant denominations today, All Saints’ Day is celebrated as a remembrance of departed Christians from any time and place – those whom Hebrews 12:1 calls a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding the Church universal. Thus, All Saints’ Day is a day on which we honor faithful believers who have died, but also those by whom we are sitting even now.
I wonder, though, if we really believe this – that we are sitting next to saints? I know that I struggle with the idea, not so much because I know all of you but because I know me. I’m much more likely to think of myself as a sinner saved by grace than a saint who sins.
How do you think about yourself? As someone who usually messes up but miraculously gets it right every now and then? Or as someone who is loved and cherished even (and especially) when he messes up? Does it matter? I think it does.
Let me tell you a Little Mr. Dunham story.
When Little Mr. Dunham was in 7th grade, he played basketball on a really good school team. Little Mr. Dunham wasn’t the best player on the team, but he was a perfectionist and often got down on himself pretty easily if he didn’t play up to his standards. One night, after a particularly bad game, Little Mr. Dunham came home, threw his duffel bag in the corner of his room, sat down at his desk, and carved into the wood a question: “Why does Little Mr. Dunham play basketball?” And then, in the throes of true teenage angst, he carved the answer: “No apparent reason.”
Little Mr. Dunham’s coach noticed his tendency to get down on himself and made the comment to Little Mr. Dunham’s parents that he was going to die at the age of 14 from beating himself up over his perfectionistic ways. Little Mr. Dunham’s parents told him this, which made him feel even worse…until his parents told him what the coach had also said: “But he’s the smartest player I’ve ever coached.”
This was what Little Mr. Dunham needed. He knew he would never be the fastest player or the best rebounder or the top scorer, so he tried to play up to what the coach had said about him being the smartest player. Someone else loved him enough to believe in him, and that made all the difference for Little Mr. Dunham and his team for the next six years. He no longer thought of himself as a bad player who only rarely and miraculously got things right; instead, he learned (and it was a process) to think of himself as a smart player who, yes, sometimes missed the mark, but was loved and trusted by his coach and his teammates anyway.
It’s true that you and I are sinners – ones who miss the mark of God’s commanded perfection. It’s also true that, if we trust in the work Jesus has done for us on the cross, we are sinners saved by grace – by a love we never deserved, but were given anyway. It is only by this undeserved love any of us can call ourselves Christians.
But God thinks of those who are Christians much more as saints who sin instead of merely sinners saved by grace. There are plenty of passages from the Psalms (among other books) that tell us this (see Psalm 16:3; 30:4; 31:23; 34:9; 37:28; 85:8; 97:10; 116:15; 132:9; 132:16; 145:10; 148:14).
It feels good and means a lot to hear God call us his saints, but I wish we were better at thinking of each other in this way. Sometimes we don’t treat each other like saints at all. We talk poorly about one another; we do mean things to one another; we think of ourselves as being better than one another.
You know where we most often see this happen at school? On the playground, in the garment rooms, in the hallways, in the gymnasium, in the bathrooms in the parking lot – places where we think no adult is watching or listening closely, but God always is.
C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia and so many other great books you’ll read at Petra, writes in his book, The Weight of Glory, about how he, too, wished we could see each other more as God sees us because of Jesus. Listen to what he wrote:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
We are called to see our fellow Christians the way God sees us – not just as sinners saved by grace (though we are), but also as saints who sin (because we do).
What would it look like if we thought of and spoke to and played with one another in ways that saw the good in one another rather than only the not-so-good? What if we believed – really believed – that when others sin against us and hurt our feelings, we should forgive them because they are saints who sometimes sin rather than dirty, rotten sinners saved by grace and a real pain in the neck? What if we ourselves experienced this kind of forgiveness when we hurt others but were treated as saints who sometimes sinned rather than sinners saved by grace?
As we celebrate All Saints’ Day and think about those who have gone before us, let’s remember to honor those saints we see everyday – at Petra and elsewhere. Let’s believe the best in one another, stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, and talk to and not about one another. And while we can all heartily affirm that, indeed, we are sinners saved by grace, let us also pray for courage for one another to live not just as ordinary people or mere mortals, but as saints – yes, who sin – but as saints nevertheless because of Jesus, who died on the cross to make us so.
This truth (and our unity as saints surrounding them) is what we celebrate today, just as those before us celebrated as well.
(Petra Academy’s fall play, The Servant of Two Masters, plays Friday and Saturday evening, November 9 and 10, at 7 p.m. Purchase your tickets today at our website or at our front desk, as with only two scheduled performances, they will go quickly!)
Over the past several years of teaching theatre history, I have become fascinated by commedia dell’arte, a Renaissance form of theatre popularized in Italy and toured around Europe by the first professional acting companies. It is theatre in its simplest form, both in structure and in execution.
Actors would play stock characters that are easily recognizable by their masks and improvise a story from a repertoire of stock situations. The main characters included the miserly old merchant Pantalone, the gregarious windbag Dottore, the clever servant Arlecchino, the braggadocios (and often Spanish) Capitano, and two lovers. Additionally there might be other servants or characters who would help fill out a performance. The situations they performed usually involved the two lovers meeting, falling in love, and running into an obstacle such as their parents (Pantalone and Dottore) or the arrival of another suitor (Capitano) but ultimately surmounting that obstacle with the help of a clever and mischievous servant (Arlecchino).
Another interesting fact about commedia is that actors would perform one character throughout their career and then pass it on to their children like an inheritance. This familiarity with one character enabled actors to come up with gags and comedic bits that could be inserted into any performance. And they were capable of playing their character in any given situation, which was important considering the improvised nature of each performance.
What has fascinated me most is the way these simple, improvised performances have influenced some of the greatest playwrights of Western theatre: Molière, William Shakespeare, and Pierre Beaumarchais (best known for the Figaro operas) all adapted commedia characters and plot devices for their shows. One example is the character of Don Armado from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labors Lost. He is a direct representation of the pompous and swaggering Capitano and his simple character lends a great deal to the play.
But more than that, I see the influence of commedia in modern entertainment as well. The plot of most romantic comedies follows the same simple scheme as a commedia performance: two people meet, fall in love, have a conflict that keeps them apart, but surmount the obstacle to live happily ever after. This similar story arc is found in many modern sitcoms such as The Office, Friends, Parks and Recreation, and even Seinfeld.
Sitcoms are like traditional commedia because actors start with a simple character outline such as “the dumb one,” “the neurotic one,” “the witty one,” couple it with a simple show premise such as “coworkers in an office,” or “friends in a big city,” and then go from there. Throughout the course of episodes and seasons the actors begin to embody their characters more and more by developing each character’s mannerisms, quirks, and personality along with expanding the initial premise of the show. And while these are often exaggerations of reality, they are born out of real life situations that are instantly relatable to the audience.
This type of comedy resonates in our culture and many of the characters, lines, and shows have become a part of our social fabric. If Shakespeare and Molière copied commedia for their shows, I imagine it had much the same effect in the 16th century.
In this year’s fall show, The Servant of Two Masters, Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni took the classic characters and situations that both he and the audience were familiar with and wrote them down in order to preserve the spirit and vitality of commedia dell’arte. However, this was 200+ years ago, and we have been faced with the challenge of trying to bridge the gap between an old, unfamiliar play and a modern audience.
Fortunately, because of the relationship between commedia and modern comedy, the gap isn’t as large as it appears, and it was quickly bridged by our student actors; the real challenge has been coaxing the improvisational and physical comedy out of them.
Commedia has always been a difficult form of theatre to perform because it is built around the improvisations and camaraderie of the actors rather than the story itself. Knowing that that was the case, I decided to focus on improvisation with the students as I directed this particular play, giving them the freedom to play with their characters and practice a more improvisational style of acting. Additionally the set design and costuming is simple, the props are minimal, and the blocking is very easy for the purpose of facilitating more improv.
Through the course of our rehearsals, students have been learning more than just their lines and blocking, they’ve been learning the two most important elements of good comedy: listening and being present in the moment. The result is our students have better understanding of comedy and a show that will have our audience (regardless of age) in stitches.
When the curtains open on November 9th and 10th, I hope you’ll join us for a lively and exciting production of The Servant of Two Masters!
At a recent Dads-Who-Dare prayer meeting (Thursday mornings, 6:30-7:30, at Petra), a father asked for prayer for his elementary-aged daughter.
“She’s like me,” he said, “in that she’s shy and quiet and can sometimes be anxious about making friends.”
He went on to share some good news, though: “Yesterday, she came home with some grass stains on her pants, so I’m taking that to be a good sign. Pray for more grass stains.”
The story stuck with me as the group prayed. While I’ve seen a few kids content to roll down our playground berm on their own, it’s rare; more often than not, where there’s one, there’s usually at least one or more friends doing it with them, together.
What a beautiful picture of a father’s love for his daughter, I thought. Recognizing his similar struggles, this dad has experienced the anxiety that kids (and adults) often feel in making and being friends. But, rather than look for someone or something to blame for his daughter’s challenge, he asked other fathers to join him in prayer for a resolution that, if provided, might actually mean more work and/or cost for him and his wife (last I checked, grass stains are still a pain to get out of clothes).
May God grant us such insight into our children and their needs. And, may God give us courage to pray for our kids and their struggles, even if doing so might cost us something in the answering.
(This is the second of two posts from 3rd grade teacher Sabrina Moody. Read part one.)
The Opportunity to Grow
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8
As we re-experience 3rd, 5th, 8th or whatever the grade may be, we have the unique opportunity to grow alongside our children. Chances are most of us did not have a classical Christian education. We may remember a grade level, but not always positively. By getting involved with projects, classroom and school activities, and homework, we positively reshape our loves and experience. The challenges and joys we experience will grow us, and as adults modeling a love for growth and learning, we couldn’t show our children a better example.
Questions like: “How can the Lord help you grow through this challenge in math?” or “How can I help you as we move past this frustration with homework?” are invaluable assets to your parenting experience. You will “grow much fruit” in your relationship with Christ and your child as you come alongside.
The Opportunity to Love and Understand More Deeply
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ Romans 15:5-6
As a learning community that places Christ at its center, Petra offers families and students the chance to build a network of support in the Body of Christ and supplement the local church. This does not mean we seek to do the work that local churches do, but rather that we support each other in the body of Christ in an educational way. What does this mean?
We integrate our subjects with biblical, Christian teachings. We teach Bible as a class at the elementary and secondary levels, but we don’t limit understandings of other subjects (particularly math and science) as exclusive of our Christian ethos.
We give you the opportunity to pray with us (Moms in Prayer, Dads who Dare prayer groups) and the opportunity to receive prayer support (faculty prayer).
Finally, our Humanities (secondary) and Literature studies (elementary) are connected to our faith by teaching students to interpret God at work in the creation of characters, themes, and philosophies shown in classical and secular literature.
Your child’s studies may be the most challenging he/she has yet experienced, but the opportunity this gives you to encourage and persevere is rich with potential. Embrace the opportunities at Petra! And may it be a wonderful year of joy, exploration, and support for you and your children!
Maybe you’re at Petra Academy because you want a community in which your children can learn and grow. Maybe you’re here because you’ve grown to love classical Christian education, or have become excited about its promise for your children and family.
Maybe you’re here because you sense, on some level, opportunities at Petra that you and your kids have never had before. What are some of these opportunities?
The Opportunity to Share
And we pray this that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10
At Petra, parents and families share in the classroom and school endeavors in unique and indispensable ways. Rather than turning you away at the door as you “drop off” in anonymity, we delight at seeing you in our hallways, hugging your child, delivering some extra words of encouragement, letting us know of requests or upcoming needs, supporting sports games and plays, or asking how you can volunteer in our classrooms or school.
At Petra, the premise of “in loco parentis” meaning “in the place of parents” (paraphrased as “being responsible for the child’s parents while the parents are absent”), guides our role as adults in your child’s life. We don’t replace you or supersede your role; instead, we partner with you to ensure that your authority and vision for your child is held throughout the time he or she is stewarded by us during the school day. This philosophy supports you as parents in a time when cultural norms can undermine and confuse your beliefs and vision where your children are concerned.
The Opportunity to Build Up in Christ
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude:20
Our community encourages and embraces the expression of love and fellowship through our Lord Jesus Christ. As our mission states, “recognizing our need for God’s grace, Petra Academy strives to awaken love and wonder in our students by teaching them to observe with humility, think with reason, and articulate with charity for the flourishing of humanity and the renown of Jesus the Christ.”
The school year here at Petra gives you the chance to build up your child, your family, your child’s teachers, administration, and families within your child’s class and school. You can build up by your words, your time, and yes, your smile. Reaching out for help when you need it (i.e., “recognizing the need for God’s grace”) gives you the opportunity to be joyous on this journey. Reach out to teachers whenever you have a concern about your child – that is why we are here! – to support and help you and your children.
Words like “I really would like to hear more about ________( your studies in a subject, class, enrichment),” or “This learning must be such a delight. I wonder how we could live into this teaching at home?” or “What you did today sounds like fun. Can I do an activity with you to experience or learn more about this?” can go a long way with your student.
(Petra’s Spell-a-thon is our annual elementary fundraiser in which families and friends of Petra sponsor student spelling words. Click here for sponsorship information for Spell-a-thon.)
There is a common misconception in this day and age of autofill, autocorrect, and spell check that spelling is not as important as it used to be. But that’s not the case at Petra Academy.
Spelling is an integral part of our elementary curriculum from Kindergarten to 6th grade, and we want to keep it that way. We know that spelling is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to communicating big ideas and timeless truths. So how do we prepare students to learn the big ideas of classical literature? By teaching them the big ideas behind spelling. Here are a couple of examples of how spelling instruction takes place in our classrooms.
Within the first two weeks of our integrated 6th grade Latin vocabulary and spelling curriculum, students were already discovering the relationship between Latin root words and English derivatives. As elementary Latin teacher Elizabeth Wickland explains, “The English word “sylvan” came from the Latin word “silva,” meaning forest or woods. One student made the observation that “sylvan” was in “Pennsylvania” and I was able to explain that the state’s name means “Penn’s woods.”
This story seems the type you would hear about at the end of the year, but students are already grasping the concepts presented. Spearheaded by Mrs. Wickland and 6th grade teacher Sarah McClaflin, our curriculum makes students’ understanding of spelling and knowledge of Latin even more accessible and applicable. Students learn Latin vocabulary alongside English derivatives and practice and learn how to spell the English words for spelling tests.
For example, terra is one of their Latin vocab words meaning earth; an English derivative of terra is the spelling word terrestrial, an adjective describing something earthly. “The English language is not our own,” Mrs. McClaflin says. “We’ve borrowed a lot from Latin.” She mentions the fact that students have an easier time with spelling when they can see the connections between words rather than simply memorizing “the way it is.”
On the other end of the hallway, Mrs. Miller has been teaching Kindergarten students letters and phonograms for 9 years at Petra. “Reading is like a magic code they get to break,” she says with a smile. “Students start in our Pre-K and Kindergarten classes learning all the different sounds that the letters can make and by the end of the year they’re sounding out words on the signs all over the school.”
As for the method, students begin by learning phonograms and spelling rules. At the outset it seems a lot to learn for a little kindergartener, but by the end of the year they know all 70 basic phonograms and take that foundation all the way through elementary. This specific and focused introduction of phonograms and spelling rules is built upon in each grade, with the end goal being that students know how to learn to spell all words, not just specific words.
The spelling skills that students are learning in grammar school are vital for becoming more confident readers both in class and on their own. It also makes them more capable of tackling the big ideas in the classical texts that they read in their secondary years.
Mrs. McClaflin and Mrs. Wickland both point out that any modern student’s vocabulary would be stretched by classical literature, but here at Petra, they are gaining the tools they need to be able to learn, understand, and use any new word they come across. We’re not just teaching students what to learn; we’re teaching them how to learn (and how to rightly spell what they learn).
The benefits of this spelling instruction are evident: during last year’s Spell-a-thon, the average score across all grades was 93 out of 100 words spelled correctly; the year before, it was 92. Not only are the scores good, but our students learn to love spelling and reading and want to do both well.
Spell-a-thon is one of the many ways that we get our students excited about learning, and it’s also one of the many ways families can be involved in our school. Thanks for being a vital part of awakening the love and wonder of spelling and reading in your students…and helping us cover the costs to do so!
At Petra Academy, we partner with Christian parents to reassure them in their school pursuit to see their children faithfully stand out in the world.
Good parents want their children to grow up to be good people. And most want a community of like-hearted people to help along the way.
Parents want their children to have the best chance at success. They worry that a wrong decision could lead to failure. Opinions from friends and family complicate matters, often causing parents to feel insecure about their choice.
Here’s an excerpt from an email from a new 2nd grade mom stating just that:
Thank you for a great first week of school for my daughter! She is really happy about her new school, which I am so happy about because sometimes as a parent we question our decisions.”
How do parents enjoy their children’s learning years if their children don’t? This is where Petra Academy can help. We recognize so much is at stake in the decision parents make for their children. And we know evaluating educational options can be difficult and confusing.
But we also know how to come alongside and help, because that’s what we’ve been doing since 1995.
Through our partnership with parents, we provide regular feedback about student progress that so many schools are unable to offer. Smaller classes and teachers who really want to get to know your student are standard, while our classical curriculum and Christian culture are anything but.
We have a good school – the best in Montana. And we have a good tale to tell – of God at work in the lives of family and faculty, of students and staff learning together. It’s a story worth sharing, so let me encourage you to jump in and share it with us!
I spend my days with young people who are thoughtful, engaged, and funny. And, because I teach 12th grade students at a classical Christian school, my students also possess extraordinarily well-trained minds. They are the product of a different educational system than I was, and I never cease to be impressed with them, as individuals and as a group.
Many of our seniors have been at our school for 6, 8, or 10+ years. Many have spent most, if not all, of their time in school learning classically by reading great books and discussing big ideas for the purpose of searching out the transcendentals of truth, beauty, and goodness. They have studied Latin, maths and sciences, as well as logic and rhetoric.
By the time these students get to their final year of high school, they have learned a great deal about the world and their place in it. They are inquisitive, analytical, and have a solid foundation on which to build, as they have been shaped by a Christian worldview and classical methodology. As a result, even as I introduce them to a new subject, they already have many of the tools they need to master it.
This became very apparent earlier this spring when seven seniors and I traveled to Helena to participate in the Montana Economics Challenge, a competition open to all high school students in Montana (this year approximately 100 students participated). Montana high school teachers are invited to incorporate economic learning in their classrooms and assemble teams to compete in a challenging array of tests covering concepts, issues, and reasoning.
Teams were comprised of three or four students who competed individually and as a team. Participants took a 15-question, multiple choice test in each of the following three areas: microeconomics, macroeconomics, and international trade and economics. The top two teams from each division after the first three rounds compete against each other in a buzzer round on general economics and current events to determine overall division winners.
Out of 26 teams from public and independent schools across Montana, Petra’s two squads made it to the final and faced off in the championship match, taking first and second place. In addition to their team wins, Petra had the top three individual performances out of 65 students in their division, with Hannah Palmer coming in first, Mackenzie Miller second, and Abby Laird third.
In April, the Petra team of Brianna Anderson, Hannah Palmer, Mac Miller and Elsa Bentz tested well enough to advance to the national semi-finals, where they finished 16th out of 35 teams from across the country – the highest finish ever for a Montana team.
Of course, economics is made up of a lot more than just numbers; it involves consideration of resources, distribution, trade, employment, supply and demand, and the populations involved in all of them. In short, economics is about people and behavior, which is why our students did so well in the competition. Our students had had just over a semester of formal economics education before the competition, yet because of the quality of their mathematics courses (combined with all they had previously read and written about in their literature and history studies in humanities), they were able to easily master economic concepts.
I’m eager for graduation and the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of these graduates. I am confident that no matter what trajectory their lives take, or what fields they choose to study, they have been wonderfully prepared to pursue whatever vocation to which the Lord calls them.
A poem a day keeps the doctor away! All triteness aside, it may well be true that this variation on the old adage instructs well concerning our need for daily literary consumption of poetic language.
Our 3rd grade class currently engages in this practice, immersed in a unit featuring Knock at a Star, an anthology of poems for children. The eager squeak of opening desks gives proof of their delight for the daily readings!
As our Petra mission states,
“Recognizing our need for God’s grace, Petra Academy strives to awaken love and wonder in our students by teaching them to observe with humility, think with reason, and articulate with charity for the flourishing of humanity and the renown of Jesus the Christ.
We realize that this articulation includes not just the more-often valued prose writings, but poetic expression as well.
How does this happen? Since children learn so well through imitation, from the earliest years at Petra, we read poetry. Beginning with nursery rhymes, fingerplays, chants, and songs in the pres-school and kindergarten years, progressing to classic poems for reading or memorizing in the 1st through 6th grades, then delving into the epic classics in the upper grades, we seek to provide children with a rich diet of poetic language that they may delight their ears and strengthen their hearts for meanings given symbolically, metaphorically, and rhythmically through words.
Ultimately, by training children to enjoy and write poetry – thus developing the capacity for poetic language – we go far to awaken love and wonder for God’s creation, our fellow man, and yes, for God’s word, the Bible. One of my favorites, Psalm 19, states:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech/ night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
This psalm proclaims God’s creation, the “work of his hands” as being rooted in speech and words, and it is written, not surprisingly, as a poem.
So, there is a place for adding to this great symphony of poetic expression. Why not share a poem a day? You can start and return often to Psalms, and go on to many lovely anthologies and classics available at our public library or school library. Read with expression, read with delight, and read for the sake of truth and beauty. It just may be the start of a wonderful new state of spirit and health for you and your family.
Here are some poems to delight the poetic palate written by members of our third grade class. Bon appetit!
“Seasons” by Maggie Koenen
When it is winter foxes dive for food in the snow,
When it is winter bears go into caves and sleep,
When it is winter snowmen appear and snow blows.
When it is spring apple blossoms glow in the morning light,
When it is spring green grass grows,
When it is spring baby animals are born.
When it is summer animals like to take a dive,
When it is summer you don’t need to wear shoes on soft green grass,
When it is summer birds gather at the feeder.
When it is summer it is the perfect season for climbing trees.
When it is fall leaves drift to the ground,
When it is fall everything turns red, brown, orange, pink, and yellow,
When it is fall the earth is beautiful.
“A Playdate” by Isabella Evans
I’m excited when it’s the day
And nervous at the same time,
But when he or she comes we
Do what we do.
“Poem to Make you Smile” by Elijah Glover
I like teddy bears
Ones from the gift shop
There are fuzzy black or brown
Big or small
Simple ones and complex ones
Happy dappy teddy bears.
“First Day” by Kendall Cote
Sometimes on the first day of school
I am really shy
Maybe too much–
I don’t even want to say “Hi”
I feel so lost
I don’t know what to say
But then I say at least “Hey”.
“My Mom” by Ezra Penland
My mom is one who work and helps
At night she cleans dishes and gets laundry
At morning she get the clothes for school
She drives, she cooks,
She’s how our family hooks.
“Keeva and Deer” by Aiden O’Dwyer
Deer come to our yard every night.
They eat grass, until Keeva comes.
“Bark!” she says,
And the deer run away, saying,
“Panic and run! Panic and run!”
I want to believe it’s happening – for real, this time.
None of this “get your hopes up, only to be crushed by another 6-8 inches of snow” stuff.
Spring. I want spring. And I want spring to stick around.
“April is the cruelest month,” wrote T.S. Eliot, “breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”
It has certainly at times felt that way – dead, dull – but I saw green grass today, and the memory and desire of past spring and summers came to mind and heart. It’s coming; it just takes a while.
My impatience is not unique to me, nor to the situation of waiting for the seasons to change. As parents, we all can be impatient with our kids – waiting for them to “get it,” wanting them to grow. But think of from where they’ve come, even just this year. Today, I marvel at our 1st graders, now reading; at our 4th graders, now working new maths; at our 9th graders, now well-versed in the various types of energy; at our 12th graders, just weeks away from presenting the fruits of their year-long thesis research and writing.
Today, I remember Pre-Kers once having to learn the basics of being in school, now walking in lines and holding doors for each other with the best of them; I recall seeing 6th graders start the year as our oldest grammar students, now almost ready to become our youngest upper students; and I notice how our 11th graders have studied the greatest of works by Dante and others, and are beginning to think not just about next year as seniors, but beyond next year as graduates.
Spring’s rain stirs dull roots – cleansing them, giving them something to channel, providing what’s needed to grow. The rain can be cold, is always wet, and often interrupts what we think God’s sovereign weather patterns should be. But there is always purpose in it – even when it’s late (or what we consider late) – at least that’s what the Scriptures tell us (Leviticus 26:4, Deuteronomy 14:11, Deuteronomy 28:13, Job 5:10). And growth (eventually) comes with it.
Spring. I want spring, even if it takes more rain and snow to get there.
May April not be so cruel after all.
“O Father, you are sovereign in all the worlds you made
Your mighty word was spoken and light and life obeyed
Your voice commands the seasons and bounds the ocean’s shore
Sets stars within their courses and stills the tempests’ roar”