Our annual Christmas Carol Service in early December brings students and families together from our Junior, Middle and Senior Schools to celebrate the Christmas season through song and reflections. The service is a highlight of the school year for many, and rightfully so – the music and singing is top-notch, the setting (Christ Church Cathedral) is stunning, the student words are moving, and it’s a very fun evening.
This year, Rev. Keven Fletcher worked with a group of Grade 8 students to write reflections to read aloud during the Carol Service. They used the legend surrounding Good King Wenceslas and the story’s themes of service, and helping others as inspiration for sharing their own stories.
Here is an excerpt from the reflections written by Marina F., Mido L., Julia M., Devon M., Lauren R., Scott R., Firinne R., Alex R. and Alicia S.
The carol ends with a moral lesson, a reminder that our lives are so intertwined with those who need our help that somehow it’s in service to them that we find ourselves blessed.
This got us thinking about our own experiences: times when we’ve been inspired by what others have done and times when we’ve been the ones who served.
Each of us has our own stories.
I rode the bus one day.
I was eating an oat bar and I had another one in my bag.
A old, homeless man sat beside me.
At first, I was nervous but then realized he was a person like everyone else.
I saw how he stared at me eating my oat bar.
I got up to get off at my stop, took the second oat bar from my bag, gave it to him and wished him a good day.
He said, “Thank you so much!”
This exchange is stuck in my memory because I managed to no longer see him as scary.
Instead, he was my equal.
Now I do my best to stop myself judging, stop the immediate stereotypes, and try to understand people.
On a trip to Spain, I noticed there were a lot of stray animals.
One day we were eating lunch outside in a really quiet, pretty restaurant on a mountain and we noticed a stray dog on the street, starting to walk towards us.
He looked very old and had cuts on his legs and was very skinny, but he just came and laid down under our table.
I gave him my blanket and all the food I hadn’t eaten.
Later we took him to a shelter.
This made an impact on me because the other people at the restaurant were kind of grossed out by him, but we made a difference to his day.
Even though he was a dog, we helped him.
It felt good.
I’m part of a group that sponsored a Syrian family to live here.
For me, the most impactful part is talking with the kids and mother and seeing how their life is changing.
Because of them, I saw and connected to problems that seem far away.
It helped me understand how lucky I am.
When you hear about things, it doesn’t always resonate with you, but when you have a personal connection, it does.
I saw firsthand how happy being here made this family. And seeing people smile, even when they have not had the easiest life, makes me feel good.
The message at the heart of the carol is true. All these acts of service not only benefit those on the receiving end, we’re blessed by it as well.
Think about what you’re feeling right now, simply by hearing these stories second hand.
Here’s how we felt the first time we shared these stories, most of which we didn’t know about each other, even as friends.
In describing how we felt, we used words like: reflective, thoughtful, inspired, enthused, and empowered. There was a real sense of “I-can-do-these-things” and “it…feels…great!”
But in the midst of all our routines, how do we keep it going?
It does feel great to reach out to others and lend a hand, At the same time, our lives get busy, we get a little cliquey, and we forget how tied we are to everyone else around us.
Fortunately, we have solid footsteps to follow.
- We may not have Good King Wenceslas, but we do have real people in our lives, like…
A parent who’s eager to respond to an overseas earthquake and prods us to do the same.
- Or a woman from whom we adopted a cat, who personally found homes for a hundred cats with nowhere else to go.
- Or a teacher who opened his door to an elderly woman who needed a safe place to stay while her husband was hospitalized.
- Or a grandpa who goes back to India as a volunteer to help with basic needs like building washrooms.
- Or a family friend who not only donates to children’s hospitals and animal shelters, but actually visits the kids and volunteers with the animals.
And along with these good people, during this season we celebrate great traditions that capture what it can mean to be human.