Waiting is one of the biggest spiritual challenges in human life, and it's a challenge that most young children feel especially acutely.
Waiting for parents, and siblings, and teachers, and friends...waiting for snack time, and recess, and stories, and art...waiting for school and trips, and birthdays, and holidays and fun...waiting for your turn...waiting to grow up...
This month in Chapel--as many teachers, children and families at our school are eagerly awaiting holiday celebrations--we will focus on the theme of waiting. Because we only have two chapel sessions this month, we'll focus on just two life experiences, among many, that require us to practice waiting!
We have to wait, with patience and hope, for PLANTS TO GROW!
On 12/4 we'll share the Godly Play Parable of the Sower and wonder about the patience and persistence of a (frustrated?) farmer planting seeds. You can read the Godly Play Parent Page for the Parable of the Sower here.
We also wait, with patience and hope, for BABIES TO BE BORN!
There have been lots of new babies born to our SMMS families this fall, so many of our children know this firsthand! On 12/11 we'll share two stories: "On the Day You Were Born" by Debra Frasier imagines the eagerness and care with which the whole creation awaits the birth of each child. "A Child is Born" by Margaret Wise Brown depicts the story of the birth of Jesus with beautiful illustrations and simple poetic language. While Christians remember and celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus each December, every family can take this opportunity to remember and celebrate the births of the children in their family and the hope, joy, love and new possibilities that each new baby brings!
You can enjoy Ms. Tricia reading "A Child is Born", below!
We have to wait for SO MANY THINGS!
There are two other books that we love about waiting: "Waiting" by Kevin Henkes and "Waiting is not easy!" by Mo Willems. We won't have time to read them in chapel, but we hope you'll take a moment to read them with your child before or after school one day--they'll be on the shelf near Ms. Denise's desk!
This month we'll learn a meditative song by Claire Cloninger and Don Cason.
The words of the song (as I've adapted them for our use in chapel) are:
While we are waiting, come.
While we are waiting, come.
Spirit of Life: come wait with us.
While we are waiting, com.
Traditions: The Advent Wreath
During the season of Advent (the season of waiting and getting ready to come close to the mystery of Christmas), many people enjoy lighting the candles of an Advent Wreath each night to mark these days of patient hope and anticipation.
We will be making Advent Wreaths at St. Mark's
on Sunday, December 1st at 11AM!
Please join us!
Our theme in Chapel this month is Gratitude.
A recent article on Harvard Medical School "Healthbeat" site suggests that "gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."
This month we'll share several stories to help us explore the theme of Gratitude.
The first story we'll share is "Grateful: A Song of Giving and Thanks" by John Buccino.
The world is FULL of SO MANY GREAT THINGS, and so we are grateful (and "GREAT-FULL"!) It helps our hearts grow happy and grateful (great-full) when we take time to NOTICE, NAME, and GIVE THANKS for all the great things in the world!
Next, we'll share the Parable of the Great Pearl, in the traditional Montessori style of Godly Play. This parable invites us ponder the mystery, "What is a treasure?" You can read this Godly Play parable for yourself, and find suggestions for follow-up conversation with your child on this Godly Play Parent Page.
We'll conclude the month with "The Thankful Book" by Todd Parr.
You might like to know that we've started to leave the stories we share each week in Chapel (on the weeks in which our story comes from a book) on a shelf near Ms. Denise's desk in the hallway at SMMS, just in case parents would like to look more closely at these books and discuss them with their children.
Songs & Prayers
This month we're using a fun, lilting song with clapping movements to anchor our practice of NOTICING, NAMING, and GIVING THANKS for the great things in life! We use the basic tune of the song (which you can hear, below) but we change the words to fit the situation as we go along.
For example, we invite each child to name something that they've noticed is great, and we incorporate their suggestions into our song. For example:
Ice Cream is great!
New babies are great!
Hugging is great!
Thanks be to God!
We also take time to affirm that we are grateful for each child, and their unique contributions to our community. For example:
Maddox is great!
CC is great!
Harper is great!
Thanks be to God!
Feel free to sing this song with your child at home, and adapt the words of the song in a way that makes sense for your family. For example, if "Thanks be to God" doesn't make sense within the spiritual framework or vocabulary of your family, you might replace "Thanks be to God" with "Our hearts are glad!" or some other phrase that expresses gratitude in language that is meaningful and appropriate for your family.
Whatever words you choose, I encourage you to find ways in the regular day-to-day life of your family to incorporate practices of NOTICING, NAMING, and GIVING THANKS for all the great things in your life and our world!
My name is Sylvia Miller-Mutia (aka Mother Sylvia), and I am a priest in the Episcopal Church. I am delighted to grow and share spiritual support with the families at St. Mark's Montessori School, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM