Lessons from the Season of Transition continue on the heels of my last post, Need a Blessing? I have just returned from my 45th high school reunion. Lord, have mercy!
As the years roll along, few graduates have any intention of ever rejoining their classmates to remember high school years. The thoughts of dragging a spouse or arriving single, seeing old flames, worrying about weight gain, hair loss, and the ravages of time to gussy up for a social function do not serve as incentives.
Thankfully, this is generally NOT the case for those who have attended single-gendered schools. I completed high school at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, NC, an all-girls episcopal boarding school now 177 years old. It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. St. Mary’s was built upon a very firm foundation of faith.
It was that faith that centered our high school experiences and friendships so long ago. We enjoyed and nurtured long-held school traditions, began new ones, participated in sports, art, music, theater, dance, and strong academics. We formed sacred bonds while eating our weight in M ‘n’ M’s, late night mischief, studying for finals and, if you didn’t have a date, watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show every Saturday night. It was not unusual to sneak into class wearing pajamas (under a raincoat) where we grew and learned without the distraction and competition for and with male students.
Reunions now are much the same. We arrive sans spouses and significant others to avoid any contamination of our single-gender experiences. We worry about our weight just as we did as teens, but now include the aches and pains of aging. We share divorces as we shared high school break-ups. None of it bears weight (great pun) in our love and devotion for each other. We scoff at the superficial as we share the great joys and devastating sorrows of our lives. Everything and everyone is accepted and treasured as a part of our whole. We know and appreciate how well St. Mary’s prepared and equipped us for the challenges of life we had no idea were heading our way.
On the way to our alumni chapel service, we spied a bulletin board entitled “Let it Go!” with the message, “Write something you want to let go of this year?” Students were encouraged to leave anonymous post-it notes with their answers. Great idea! The HR in me took note that this could work well in workplaces.
As we scanned the board, we could not believe how many notes said ‘Mom,’ ‘Mother,’ ‘My Mother,’ ‘Mom and Dad,’ ‘My family.’ Granted, there is a lot of mother-daughter turmoil in the teenage years, but this was a bit stunning, especially given these girls were living away from home. It prompted great discussion.
After Chapel, we returned to the board to show other classmates, and it was then that we discovered these ‘mother’ answers were NOT things students wanted to get rid of. Instead they were written on stars and posted under a message, “And we’re grateful for our stars.” There were so many more stars of gratitude than there were messages of things to let go of. What a great reflection of our youth and future leaders.
This is a signpost for a successful life. If you are centered more in gratitude than lack, you know the secret. So too is the blessing of letting go of the superficial things that weigh us down unnecessarily and keep us from the authentic, sacred moments in life.
We have lived a lot of life since we graduated May 11, 1974. If we make it five more years and make it back, we’ll receive a medal at our 50th reunion. As was the case 45 years ago, I grew and learned a lot from these Saints. They are now successful businesswomen, mothers and grandmothers, artists, CEO’s, business owners, fundraisers, caregivers, community advocates. Without exception, faith and family form the center and we remain devoted to each other. It isn’t something we will be letting go of. We’re mighty grateful for our stars.
“You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.”
~ Lesbia Scott (1898)
~From the desk of Becky Morlok~
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