I hope and pray this season of Thanksgiving brings warmth and the many blessings of Providence to your family. I recently knocked the dust off a collection of speeches and writings by Abraham Lincoln to take my annual look at his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. It is always good to read as it tends to reorient my mind to the meaning behind this American tradition. In his proclamation, which came in early October of 1863 with the country ferociously engaged in civil war, President Lincoln brought to light the blessings of “fruitful fields and healthful skies;” a very positive take on the condition of things. Lincoln goes further by mentioning that some of our “bounties” are so often enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, but, he adds, some blessings “are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” I find my heart can easily become “habitually insensible,” thus I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the many blessings, both great and small, that Almighty God has heaped upon my plate this past year.
In line with Lincoln’s instruction to observe “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father,” I want to take a moment to express to you just a few particulars of the daily occurrences of God’s “gracious gifts” in my life at Ambleside. I am thankful:
That I get to witness the Holy Spirit work in the minds and hearts of God’s children; for a school that recognizes that all of our study of creation would be for not, if it does not draw us to the Creator; for the opportunity to take a walk around the block with an anxious student; that I get to pray with a student who is not quite understanding the pain that at times accompanies life in this world; for foursquare without squares; for *“sharks” and for “minnows”; for “Littles capture Bigs”; for parents who care enough to see the immense value of a proper education; for parent volunteers who do more for nothing than some do for much; for the cultivation of life giving habits of mind and body; for the spirit revealing a new scriptural insight through a 6th grader’s application of a scripture recitation from the previous year; that I get to read and discuss the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at staff meetings and talk about how we apply the principles of community in our classrooms; that I get to witness a student connecting the spelling/meaning difference between “speed” and “sped”; that a place exists in the world that sees weakness as an opportunity, the way Jesus did; that I finally get to experience what it’s like to be undefeated at the tether ball pole; and the list could go on and on and on.
In sum, Ambleside is a truly remarkable place and I count myself immensely blessed to be in the midst of Christ in and through you as we work things out together. This community is a blessing in my life that is of so “extraordinary a nature, that [it] cannot fail to penetrate and soften” my heart.
Principal of Ambleside School of Fredericksburg