Why must he speak out? When do you feel this need to speak about important concerns of today?
In looking at hope in our Sion tradition and the way it calls us to examine our world today, we will find stirrings deep within us. Just as the prophet Jeremiah could not refrain from speaking in his day so we too are compelled to speak out about the things which concern us. Jeremiah indicates that he knows it would be easier to be silent and yet he feels a fire burning within him and he knows he must speak out.
Lockdown reminded me again of the beauty and value of community.
The sense of community in Sion is very strong.
My prayer is that every person who encounters Sion will feel the same.
I strongly believe that Our Lady of Sion is a very important place. What a child experiences here will not be experienced anywhere else.
There’s a soul here and it is good.
Singer-Songwriter, Michael Card explores the beauty and power of community in his song, The Basin and the Towel.
In the chorus, he sings:
And the call is to community
The impoverished power that sets the soul free
In humility, to take the vow
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel
I admire the selfless service known as Seva in Sikhism – a service performed without any expectation of result or award for performing it. That’s the Sion ethos too.
Our Founders, Alphonse and Theodore Ratisbonne believed very strongly that Sion schools should be places of dialogue where young people could engage in discussions to develop knowledge and understanding.
Peacefully challenging abuse and injustice is at the heart of our ethos. I was recently challenged for posting a statement about “Black Lives Matters” on our school Facebook page.
I was vehemently chastised for being political.
It’s an interesting viewpoint.
However, change does not happen through silence and inactivity.
Young people want to work together to make this world better.
They certainly have my blessing to explore how that can be achieved.
Former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, Satish Kumar writes:
When you see a conflict, see it as an opportunity to negotiate. Communicate in such a way as to come to a conclusion together that is good for both of you. That’s the challenge. Sharpen your communications skills. Just like when you cook – don’t use a blunt knife, sharpen your tools. Refine your tools of communication and learn the art of speaking in such a way that you will open the hearts of other people. Then you will be able to use a crisis as a moment of opportunity.
The solution is not in the thinking. The solution is in the action. How are you going to climb Mount Everest if you stand at the bottom and look up? The mind is pessimistic, thinking is pessimistic, but actions are optimistic. Action gives you hope. So don’t look at the top of Everest.
Don’t look at a society and think it is so big, so complex, that nothing can change. Don’t think: “I am one single person, what can I do?” That is despondency; that is pessimism. Instead, whatever you can do, do it. Step by step. The Great Wall of China was not built in one day. Apartheid did not come to an end in one day. The British Empire eventually ended. So lots of big changes have taken place. When the Buddha started, did he think: “How am I going to teach my four noble truths to the world?” No, he just started to teach. And now his truths are known around the world. Jesus Christ was one person. You are one person, I am one person. We do our best with dedication, commitment, perseverance, without anxiety, without any fear. Do your best, serve the world.
During the Pandemic, it was a time when we needed each other – and yet, we were forced to separate.
That just felt so wrong.
Satish Kumar’s words here are most definitely aligned with the ethos of Sion.
Covid19 can seem overwhelming.
The devastation of the economy can seem overwhelming.
The desperate cry of “Black Lives Matter” can feel overwhelming.
The war in Ukraine can seem overwhelming.
But in all of these challenges, there is hope.
Listen to your own voice.
Recognize the incredible strength that you have within yourself.
Return to your breath – find stillness and silence.
In those moments, you will see the part that you can play in responding to all that is going on around you.
Try not to be afraid.
Fear can be paralyzing.
You are all amazing people, with unique gifts and what you bring to your community makes a huge difference.
During this strange time, you will have learned so much more about yourself.
That learning will be significant, even if you have not realized it yet.
As young people of Our Lady of Sion School, I would like you to continue to learn about yourself.
I would like you to learn what it means to love others.
I want you to discover more about yourself and how you might use your life to serve others.
I want you to believe in yourself – to not be afraid of failure, but to use failure to propel yourself to carry on towards success.
I want you to aim high and achieve amazing things – making yourself proud and even surprising yourself.
I want you to fall in love with learning.
I want you to respond to what you see happening in the world.
I want you to discuss your feelings and share your views.
I want you to be proud of who you are and never try to be something that you are not.
I want you to challenge injustice and abuse.
I want you to hate bullying but love the bully.
I want you to look out for others and notice those who look sad or lonely.
I want you to feel at home with saying I believe in God or I don’t believe in God, or I love Allah or I follow Jesus or Om Shanti or “Black Lives Matter” or “I’m not sure, can you help me understand more about what you believe?”
Let’s celebrate our individuality and encourage one other to be ourselves.
Sion is a unique school.
To be part of Sion carries with it certain responsibilities.
Unkindness is not tolerated.
Bullying is a disgrace.
Rudeness and disrespect will be challenged, and Poor behaviour and bad language will also be challenged.
Sion students demonstrate how communities should live together.
We all work hard to consider one another and build each other up rather than destroying each other – that is not how we want to live here.
When the first light of sun- Bless you.
When the long day is done- Bless you.
In your smiles and your tears- Bless you.
Through each day of your years- Bless you.
May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark. May you always hear
Even in your hour of sorrow, the gentle singing of the lark. When times are hard may hardness never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember when the shadows fall— you do not walk alone.
May god bless you all
Sending love and light – always
Thank you Steven! I think you will love the Catalyst 4 presentation by Rachel Colla. She does lead us to appreciate the essential need to act.
Satish Kumar's words are thought provoking and insightful - thank you for sharing them. Words and actions are equally important but one needs to follow the other if we are to continue to inspire hope in our young people, bring hope to our world and remain hopeful ourselves. "Do your best, serve the world" - what a great call to action!