I love this time of year. Greeting Lower School students in the mornings of December, I see young ones captivated by seeing their breath in the cold air and lovingly bundled up by their parents and caregivers. There’s something special about a handshake with gloves. There’s a crunch in the ground at recess and the intense glow of cheeks as children come back inside to the warmth of the classroom. And the surprise of snow globe flurries at mid-day is a beautiful and ethereal delight.
I am an evening walker, and as I walk through the woods at night on these shortest of days, the air is crisp and dry on my face, sound carries from distances over the contours of the Wissahickon Valley, and I see through the bare trees the warm light of homes on the edge of my Mt. Airy neighborhood. The stillness of the evening in winter invites a particular quality of inner quiet. The image of houses in the distance, lit from within by both the warmth of furnaces and the love of families making a home together, always touches me this time of year. I am a New Englander at heart, and these evening walks in December awaken much earlier experiences of my childhood in Massachusetts.
It is no coincidence that our Hindu, Jewish and Christian traditions celebrate the light of hope at this darkest time of the year. The light of candles against the backdrop of deep darkness evokes revery, connection to earlier generations and assurance of the steady presence of the spirit in our lives. The rituals draw our families together in remembrance but also make us freshly aware of being together in the immediacy of the present moment. As the year draws to a close, it is good to be drawn close to our loved ones in this way, to be reminded of the love that so deeply holds us and to be encouraged by the hope that the abundant goodness in our lives engenders as we look ahead to a new year.
I am made hopeful and thankful everyday by the AFS community, in all of its human depth and diversity, its spiritual grounding, wholesome aspiration and the wonderful work on the part of all of us, children, teachers and families, to make this such a special place. I wish all the best to all who are celebrating Hanukkah this week, to those who were joined together by Diwali in November, to those looking ahead to Christmas and to all of us simply joined in the Light at this special time of year.
All the best,
Head of School