Every Friday morning our Lower School community gathers for chapel in the auditorium. Chapel begins with student volunteers sharing pieces on the piano or other instruments, while teachers and children in kindergarten through fourth grade quietly take their seats. The lights are dim, and on the stage floor is an Oriental rug, atop of which sits a honey colored trestle table. A vase of flowers or other seasonal arrangement separates candelabra on each end of the table. When everyone is seated, our music teacher plays something beautiful on the piano, and two fourth grade candle lighters approach and carefully light the six candles on the table. Then we stand, recite a prayer and sing a song. After that, a speaker presents a homily.
Last week I was the chapel speaker. I have been teaching at my school for ten years, and this was the first time I’d volunteered to lead a chapel. If I’m honest, I would tell you that I’ve actually avoided it like the plague. My colleague and friend Karen agreed to present with me, and we planned our topic before winter break. We decided we would talk about peaceful times and places and how important is is for each of us to create moments of peace in our busy lives.
Karen and I went our separate ways for vacation and began thinking about the specifics. I posed a question on Facebook, asking my friends where they find peace and what they might tell children about peaceful times and places. Several friends shared ideas, and I got a few incredulous responses along the lines of “That topic will never work. Good luck ”
“Maybe, “I thought, “that is exactly why we should do it.”
And so, when we returned to school this week, Karen and I put the finishing touches on our “script.” We put together a collection of pictures, of places and activities that bring each of us peace, and we chose parts of a book to share.
Honestly, I was a little nervous on Friday morning. Standing on the floor looking out at the audience was completely different than sitting in a seat looking down to the stage. I took the microphone and held it carefully, at a distance, and began my part of our homily. The butterflies in my stomach quieted and the room and moment began to feel almost magical. Calm descended over the audience of two hundred plus children as we shared our thoughts about peaceful places, times and activities. I noticed how still and quiet the children became. I watched the teachers relax as we spoke. Karen and I didn’t just get to share our thoughts about the importance of creating peace in our lives, we got to experience it with our school community right then and there.