The holidays are stressful, none of us will question that - having to travel here and there go to parties, cooking, baking, shopping to complete, Christmas cards, office parties, and in all of this we neglect ourselves. When all is said and done, it is truly wonderful to retreat into the love and comfort of heading to that place called home - whether down the block or a car ride or a flight away.
As much as things change, I'm convinced, ultimately; they stay the same. Upon my arrival to RI I headed to the holiday service at my Middle/High School - I walked in the front door and I was transported back to my school days. My first question - Where can I find my mom? The secretary and my high school AP English teacher burst out in laughter, pointing me in the direction of the Middle School where I found the head of the Middle School (my 6th & 7th grade English teacher) and rest of the faculty valiantly attempting to put the students in perfect uniform into some semblance of order. I couldn't help think that was my classmates and me 15-17 or so years ago.
Has it really been that long?
I headed over to the service wondering how it had changed - my Junior year they radically changed the service the complete dismay of the student body and it was really no different when we were Seniors. Looking at the program, there was no pageant; the music was for the most part the same. As the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools processed in I saw my classmates, other students and myself in the current student body. The bell choir began, and the Seniors entered, candles and white sweaters.
A Quaker School, they celebrate Silent Meeting, a time for community to worship in silence, to meditate, reflect, and come together as a community. The Seniors invoke the silence for the service:
Now is the time of the winter solstice;
Now is the time of the greater night.
Now is the time for songs and stories;
Now is the time for candles bright.
Now is the time to dispel the darkness;
Now is the time of growing light.
We're gathered together in love and in kindness,
In joy and in unity, warmth and good cheer.
Ages and seasons surround us with wisdom,
And light from within makes our way the more clear.
The lessons of youth do not pass, but repeat
Like the cycles of the seasons of each passing year.
Sitting in reflection, I felt the most at home I've felt in a long time.