Wednesday 15th December
written by John Stinson parent of Ivy in Daisy Kindergarten, photography by Lisa Phillips
Our day had a rocky beginning. I have not been setting an alarm because either the baby or Ivy or both have been waking around 6 a.m. This morning, everyone slept in, and at 7 a.m. I opened my eyes and realized that our crew was going to be late to school. Ivy’s first act of the day was to proclaim that she did not want to go to school. Getting her dressed took nearly twice as long as usual. I had forgotten that I left my car on the other side of Germantown Avenue; we had a roofer coming by at 7:30 to do something about a leak we had on Wednesday; the list goes on. Jennifer, Ivy, and I stumbled out of the house at the time that we should have been gently pushing Ivy toward the door of the Daisy Kindergarten. We were a crabby crew in the car.
The event, however, removed us entirely from this hectic world of short-term stresses and selfish expectations. Watching the children engage in this very simple but uniquely powerful act of walking, one by one, into the garland spiral, lighting a candle, and then placing it down in the path to light the way for others was the perfect balance of theater and ritual. It was somehow both spectacular and utterly solemn. Quite mysteriously, it also showed each child as a distinct individual at the same time that he or she was revealed to be an inchoate (if intensely powerful) part of the same collective spirit. As a viewer I had the sensation of emotional sublime while inhabiting a state of contemplative peace. Jennifer and I went out afterwards (despite each having an unending to-do list) and sat and spoke about what we had just seen. We both acknowledged that the Garden of Light wiped away the entire pre-event morning, made the mundane conflicts and friction irrelevant, and set us to staring clearly at what we are really doing in life, especially as parents. It was an experience that put me entirely in the moment. My hope is that the experience inspires me to pursue such moments to share with my girls and Jennifer. What a joy!