About four hours ago I took off from Victoria Airport, on my way first to Toronto, then onward in a couple of days to New York, and finally Philadelphia. While the white noise of air circulates through the cabin vents of this Boeing 767, through other vents – if it is possible for the imagination to have vents – circulate the echoes of today’s Remembrance Day Service at the School. Dona nobis pacem – give us peace – sung by the Middle School choral ensemble, fades out as the flight attendant asks everyone to buckle up for a patch of turbulence, and then fades back in when she is done.
This is both a business and a personal trip. On the business side: the School wants to secure its future, and we hope and believe therefore that those connected with SMUS today will provide for tomorrow as past generations bequeathed the legacy of the school we now inhabit. On days like today when we honour sacrifice, we understand why we both preserve that legacy, and fulfill the vision.
At no other SMUS event do the hands of past and future squeeze our hearts tighter than our Remembrance Day Service. In my own small world, it is also a day of past and future. When I arrive at the end of this Toronto leg I may well have a new grand-daughter; today my son’s wife is due to deliver their new child. Science being wonderful, we know it’s a girl.
It will be a girl: science reveals this secret. Science also invents the weapons that caused the deaths we commemorated today. Such are human beings. My granddaughter, and the students in our school who will shape the world of tomorrow along with her, will in due course wrestle with their discovery that good and evil grow up inside the human creature, and that goodness seems to be something we have to work at.
Imagine the work that Puroshini Pather describes in this video clip. A Grade Eleven student now, under the eye of her music teacher, Donna Williams, Puroshini took a piece of music she wrote in Grade 8, and refined and re-articulated it for its debut with our Senior Orchestra in today’s ceremony. Such a student has her natural gifts, she has the support of her parents and teachers, and she has a world of music she inhabits, a world that includes our school. Today’s performance was exquisite, the confluence of these streams in her young life. The birth of a baby girl, the making of music that restores our hearts on a heart-rending occasion: it makes me believe the future can be good. Dona nobis pacem.