Thursday, September 30, 2010

Student Council Guest Chapel

Our Student Council Vice President kicked of the first SC Guest Chapel by inviting Dr. Fred Johnson to speak. Dr. Johnson has a long and distinguished career in education, particularly in Shelby County Schools. After remarking that he predicted a future US president to be sitting in our ranks, Dr. Johnson spoke passionately about the building blocks of a good society: respect, compassion, ingenuity, among others.
Acknowledging previous generations failures, he inspired and challenged us to accomplish no less than world peace. What a gift to hear from someone with a storied career and a passion for the future of our community.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Serve?

Head of School, Marlene Shaw challenged the MS and US students to consider what they "get" from giving.

"If you are like me, you wonder what can you do? How can I make a difference? Will my small contribution make any difference when others give so much? Most of our questions are about what we are doing for those we are helping. How we are going to make a difference in their lives.
Today----let’s think about community service differently? How will it make a difference in your life? Are you willing to learn something valuable from your service and reflect upon it? In fact, Service to others actually serves us. Service learning helps us as the volunteers to learn about ourselves."

Mrs. Shaw went on to recount a vivid encounter with a 20th century pioneer ...
"The evening I met Margaret Mead, she stood on stage and talked for an hour—smart, witty, and full of life, she was a gifted educator who cared deeply for humanity---all of humanity. When she finished her remarks, a man in the audience challenged her saying, “It sounds like you are asking us to love and care for each other---to be our brother’s keeper so to speak.”
Without hesitation, Margaret Mead in a strong voice replied. “Yes, Absolutely. You are to love and care for your brother---your sister---your neighbor, and every living creator that God has created.” Everyone in that room was silent listening to her words and moved by her passion. We knew we had just witnessed a truly special event. That night Margaret Mead went on to encourage us to engage in service to others because they need our help, but in fact, she encouraged us because she said that service would make us better people. That we would learn valuable lessons in service to others."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spilt Milk

It was a Middle School only Chapel today, and the girls were introduced to Christy Beesley, the new Associate for Youth Ministries at CHC.  After sharing a few "random facts" about herself (fave color: yellow), Christy got to the heart of her message: laughter.  She shared a story about her sixth-grade self knocking over a glass of milk during family dinner and actually crying over spilt milk.  Christy told us that her mother's response was to knock over the other five glasses of milk on the table!  Amid laughter and a really big mess, Christy began to get the point.  Life will provide moments for us that are truly challenging, but often times we are just plain taking things (and ourselves) too seriously.  Life is full of joy, and we all ought to laugh much and often ... even laughing at ourselves ... for a better life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Race for the Cure

St. Mary's is celebrating a record fifteen years of record-breaking participation in the Race for the Cure with a "Sweet 16" challenge to do it again!  This morning in chapel, we heard the personal story of how the St. Mary's community rallied around one senior student's family two years ago as they faced her mother's diagnosis with breast cancer.  She thanked her class and the whole school for being her companions during a painful time: offering her hugs, shoulders, casseroles, and Christmas decorations when she and her family needed their support most.  What a blessing that her mother was with us to hear her tell the story.
SMS Race coordinators invited everyone present to stand up if she or someone she knew had been touched by breast cancer.  Our hope is that our work now means that someday these Chapel talks won't be necessary.  Sweet Sixteen - sign up and race for the cause, the cure, and the future!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

St. Mary's Community Fund

For the first of several Community Fund Chapels, we welcomed Ms. Angela White of Agape Ministries.  Angela thanked the St. Mary's students and supporters for the grant Agape received last year, and she explained to the MS and US audience some of the work made possible by the gift.  Telling us the story of one woman and her children who came to Agape, Angela revealed the multi-layered work that is done by their organization: pre-natal care, residential treatment, life-skills training, child care and child assessment. 
Her commitment to this meaningful work shone through her words, and her gratitude to St. Mary's was sincere.  Ms. White left us with a challenge to remember those whom it would be easy to forget and an invitation to work even more closely with Agape in the future.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rejoice with those who are rejoicing

The Rev. Mark Rutenbar, Rector of Church of the Holy Communion, joined the St. Mary's community on Monday and shared a series of stories revealing, perhaps, one of the darker sides of our personalities: the tendency to resent our neighbor's success.  With a Gospel parable and a Jewish folktale illuminating the same message, he encouraged us to resist the temptation to begrudge another person's accomplishments and instead to rise to the occasion to celebrate the joys of our friends and companions.  Students and faculty recognized the reality of his message, and many shared reflections throughout the day that followed about sharing in the happiness of others' good fortune.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Constitution Celebration

This morning's chapel was filled by the sounds of Schoolhouse Rock, game show questions and new lyrics to a 90's rap hit.   What do these have to do with our nation's history?  Today we celebrated the 233rd year of the Constitution, and through a series of presentations by students in eighth grade and tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, we were all reminded of the core tenets of American history.
The Preamble was sung in the mock-old fashioned way of Schoolhouse Rock.  Then everyone in attendance was challenged with trivia questions about the three branches of government; enthusiastic flag waving marked all correct answers.  The Bill of Rights rap served as an entertaining finale, and if your faithful blogger can figure out how ... we'll post the video here!

Cum Laude Inductions

Speaking to the themes of excellence, justice, and honor, the six current members of the Cum Laude Society inducted seven new girls into this national society.  Recognizing their academic achievements as well as their personal commitment to make a contribution to the greater good, Dr. Ray and Mrs. Shaw welcomed these seniors and charged them with their responsibility.
The distinguished record you have made at St. Mary's Episcopal School has won for you membership in the Cum Laude Society.  This society is a fellowship of scholars whose purpose is to recognize excellence in academic work.  As you pursue your education, it is our hope that you will accept the honor of membership in this Society as a responsibility to make some contribution to the on-going search for greater understanding of humans and society.
When asked "Do you accept this charge?" They each responded, "I do."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not Your Typical Alum Chapel

Morgan Beckford '06 might have brought the walls down with her amazing voice today in chapel.  She sang three songs, delighting everyone and demonstrating her extraordinary talent.  Significantly though, she began by sharing her evolving story from dreaming of stardom to coming to appreciate that she had a passion for "educational outreach."  Morgan's purpose now seems to be to infect everyone she meets with love for song, and particularly operatic song.
If today is any indication, she's quite contagious.  Look out world!

Monday, September 13, 2010


If I can be a runner*, what can you be?  It is possible to recreate, reinvent, reshape and change who you are.  You'll have to be patient as others around you adjust to your new identity, but in the mean time you can practice making space for those around you to change who they are.

*runner:  noun, something that Katherine Bush has never been, and in fact is an identity that she has actively avoided, even derided.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Constance and her Companions, Part 3

Enjoy these wonderful pictures from our Constance Celebration by Lisa Buser

Constance and her Companions, Part 2

We were honored to worship today with a delegation of sisters, brothers, associates, and friends of the Order of St. Mary and the Brotherhood of St. Gregory.  Coming from "the mountain" (Sewanee) and as far away as Wisconsin to mark the occasion of the Martyrs of Memphis, our guests brought us the "Memphis chalice," a gold chalice that was originally used for worship by Constance and her companions in the 1870's.

Our visitors were here to worship with us as we celebrated our first service of Holy Eucharist for this school year.  Commemorating our heritage through the remembrance of this day with Holy Communion has become a tradition for the Middle and Upper School student bodies. 

We reflected upon the theme of looking deeply, caring actively and loving recklessly.  To engage fully in life and to reach out to those in front of us is not a religious calling, but a path to a rich, full and beautiful life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Constance and her Companions, Part 1

Assistant Chaplain Susan Snodgrass shared the story of the women (and men) collectively known as the Martrys of Memphis.  Today is the day when the Church remembers their story, and tomorrow our St. Mary's community will celebrate Holy Eucharist in commemoration of their legacy.  After reminding the girls of the key pieces of the Sisters' story, she focused on the "companions."  Who are the people in your life who walk with you through good times and bad?  Who are your companions?

We are looking forward to a special celebration tomorrow, and we are honored to welcome five Sisters of the Order of St. Mary "from the mountain" who are visiting Memphis this weekend to participate in many events at St. Mary's Cathedral.

Friday, September 3, 2010

19th Century?

I'm not ready to give up my ordination, my right to vote, my air conditioning, but I do wish that it was easier for me to slow down.  And not just to slow down, but to stop.  I love texting and facebook and my car and all kinds of 20th and 21st century advances, but I'm thinking of stepping back for a little while this holiday weekend.
Much like our 20-minute-chapel-respite provides, I am looking for a time when I am not producing or consuming or communicating: a time not to do anything, but instead to be.  The 19th century was far from an ideal time, and I wouldn't want to live there ... but I might like to visit.