by The Rev. Kathy Boss, Chaplain
In the Episcopal Tradition in December, we celebrate Advent. Advent is a time of anticipation and transition—a time to take stock and to remember what is important as we prepare for the promise of Christmas. Each of the four Sundays before Christmas, we light a candle. On the first Sunday of December, we light a candle for Hope; on the second, we light a candle for Peace; on the third, for Joy. Finally, that weekend before Christmas, as the days begin to get lighter, we light a candle for the greatest of these, Love.
Christianity is not the only religion with a tradition of taking stock in December and lighting candles that bring warmth, hope, peace, joy, and love into our homes. The menorah is lit in Jewish homes across the world, celebrating Hanukkah and the rededication of the second temple. The story is that for eight days, the Maccabeans held their ground against the Syrian-Greek occupiers, refusing to leave the temple. Despite having enough oil for only one day, they were able to keep the lights lit for eight. All over the world, cultures celebrate the winter solstice, that moment when the day begins, once again, to lengthen, and the night to retreat.
Our students are back home now, taking a deep breath and enjoying family. These teenage years are never easy. They are fundamentally a time of transition and anticipation. And this past year has been one of the hardest in many, many years. Advent, Hanukkah, Solstice celebrations, family gatherings, and traditions help to gather us in and remind us that, while there is much work to be done, there is also an abundance of hope, peace, joy, and love.
We do not know what next semester will bring. We hope that the vaccine will quickly stem the tide of COVID-19, and we all will be back together on our beautiful campus, able to see one another’s smiles and sit around the table together. But we are also at peace with the knowledge that this may not happen and take so much joy in the community here at The White Mountain School. Love does see us through. And we have teachers, staff, and administrators who love and are passionate about these young people.
I invite you, whatever your tradition or your beliefs, to consider how hope, peace, joy, and love continue to show up in your lives. Light a candle or two, remember, imagine, and celebrate the promise of warmth and light that the longer days bring.
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.