Friday, October 29, 2010

Indian Dance

I can't begin to do justice to watching one of our own fifth graders perform a traditional Indian dance as the first of our Diversity Club sponsored chapels. This is one that you just had to be there for!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Musical Chapel

We were treated to four gifted performances today in chapel. Three of the pieces were played by pairs of sisters no less! The St. Mary's community is blessed to overflowing with talent in all fields. What a treasure to share these talents with our school community.

Monday, October 25, 2010


This weekend brought the news that the chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary had burned and also a Toy Story movie marathon. These seemingly disparate events offered me the opportunity to reflect on my relationship with things: buildings, toys, gadgets, clothes, and other such stuff. A recent article offered the suggestion that our problem is not our stuff, but that our problem is our appetite for more and more stuff.

What if we took better care of our things? What if we let ourselves love our things, how they shape us and make our lives richer? What if we looked for things we lost, repaired things that are broken instead of just buying a new replacement? What if we honored the God who made this world by taking care of all that we have been given?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Mrs. Shari Ray, twelfth grade English teacher and storyteller extraordinaire, retold a story from several years ago in which she met a Holocaust survivor. This elderly woman told her terrible stories to Mrs. Ray at a Passover Seder and yet had a surprisingly joyful demeanor. When asked the secret to her positive outlook, the grandmother told Mrs. Ray that it came from her choice to forgive her enemies.

In today's retelling of this encounter, Mrs. Ray added a coda, describing the joy and delight and dancing by this same older woman at the wedding of her granddaughter. We were all challenged to consider the choices we make: small ones about what to wear, medium decisions about where to go to college, and large choices - character choices - choosing to forgive and to live in joy.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Offering the wisdom of two of my favorite spiritual writers, Anne Lamott and Mary Oliver, today's chapel was all about prayer. The "please and thank you" prayers described by Lamott and the "paying attention" prayers as told by Oliver. After a discussion of the simplicity of these approaches, we talked about the return of student-led prayers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays will be an occasion to call each girl by name throughout the year as we recognize birthdays, and Thursdays will provide a space to lift up the concerns of our community.
If you're reading this blog from "outside" the community, please remember that the school prayer asks for blessings for all our alumnae and patrons everyday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Our second outside speaker of the week: through the work of the Latin Club, we welcomed Shelley Sumner from LifeBlood to share about the literally life-giving work of our local blood bank. She challenged the girls to understand the need through a variety of "stand up if you ..." questions. Seeing the need played out (hypothetically) in our own community certainly brought the message home that we all can be heroes and we all should be donors.

The SMES Blood drive is on November 11. Won't you consider giving? You can save four lives, and the need is real.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The Rev. Ollie Rencher returned for a special Middle School chapel about peace. Beginning in our own hearts and homes, he inspired the girls to consider how changing the world was truly possible.
"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me..."

Be assured that lots more praying was going on as the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades were taking the PSAT!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Thanks to the invitation of the tenth grade, whose focus is on environmental issues, the SMES community heard from a representative of Americorps. After watching a short video about the work and mission of this amazing organization, a young woman shared her personal, transforming experience of spending several months working all over the southeast. She told us about the work she had done and what it had meant to her life, and she also took a few questions from the crowd. We all caught a glimpse into this world of service to our country.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alumnae Chapel

We welcomed home Carmen Carson, class of 2003, for our second Alumnae Chapel. Carmen works in L.A. as an event coordinator for Wolfgang Puck, and she shared many funny moments and brushes with celebrities. More than that, though, Carmen reflected on the circuitous path that brought her to this current work, encouraging the girls to be open to all possibilities - even seemingly dead ends. Following her passion of cooking, instead of her major coursework in college led to a challenging and fulfilling opportunity. She shared that while she's not using her Biology degree, she is definitely using the organizational skills and stress management techniques she honed in her time at St. Mary's.
Her non-traditional work was entertaining to hear about, but her message was truly inspiring - follow your passion!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Operation Smile

We heard from an Upper School student and member of the St. Mary's Service Organization about Operation Smile, a global organization offering surgeries to children for the treatment of cleft palate and cleft lip. She spoke movingly of how she first became aware of the work being done, and how she pursued an opportunity for her own involvement as a student. After sharing the history of the organization, she challenged all of us to consider how we might support this group and their work.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Double Header

Today I shared the wisdom learned from a woman who flies planes for FedEx, the world is always spinning. The application of this truth, in my life, has been the understanding that I'm never really "stuck." Often feeling stuck with a relationship problem or a new skill that seems beyond me, I can wake up in the night struggling with these issues. Remembering the pilot's words, I know that when I wake in the morning, I am actually "in a new place," no longer wherever I was when I went to bed simply because of the earth's rotation. From a new vantage point, solutions and movement forward seem possible.

As a special gift, and dedicated to the seniors, one of our Middle School girls sang "On My Own," as a solo from Les Miserables. What talent!!