This is the quiet scene on the playground of Christ the Sower this morning. The will we -won’t we debates on school closure have abated and at most, half a dozen of us are in the school building, working away at things we need to do, quietly, like the snow.
Yesterday’s snowfall somehow changed the culture of a human community – different sounds emerge, whilst others are absorbed into the ground. Relationships soften and there is a new common task presented to us. For a wonderful exposition of this sort of change, there are two novels that describe it far better than I can. One is Orhan Pamuk’s novel (Snow) about the city of Kars during a heavy Anatolian snowfall, a metaphor for political isolation (my favourite book of Pamuk’s) and the other is David Park’s set of novellas and short stories set in Northern Ireland during the snowfall of 1963, The Big Snow. Both are books to be read in the quiet of a day like today.
Walking around Bradwell, where I live, as the snow fell and added to the quiet, was equally magical and full of peace. We went to church early, not always certain where the path was in the Glebe Field, to be greeted by a small dedicated band of congregants offering coffee and welcome. 15 of us diehards heard the call to obedience of John the Baptist and sang enthusiastically Hark the Glad Sound. After fellowship and a trudge back through the still falling snow, a day of quiet resumed.
Wendell Berry uses this simile in one of his most pertinent haikus (from Leavings, 2009, Counterpoint Press, Berkeley CA):
Contrast this morning’s quietness with the previous week, where a Christmas intensity was unleashed upon parents and children ready to celebrate with great joy and vigour.
The highlights so far for me have been:
- Our Year 4 and 5 children singing Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour to a group of folk at Mallard House, and reducing plenty of them to tears.
- A lovely clear and insightful reading from Gabriel in Year 5 of Isaiah 11 during our Carol Service.
- Seeing the fruit of the staff changes we made in the Early Years in the summer, so that the resultant sense of unity among the Early Learning Phase in their nativity was almost tangible – in the singing and in the children’s commitment to each other as performers.
- The commitment of our little orchestra, playing alongside members of the Toddington Town Band, and the joy they took in playing at the Carol Service.
I am glad of the enforced closure, and whilst it places a certain pressure on us all to squeeze five days’ learning and activity into four, the sense of needed rest in the middle of a Christmas season is, for us as a church school, a balm and a kindness. It is in the nature of God to bring these hiatuses into our lives, not so that we feel the pressure of being behind in our work, but so that like the snow, we can do things quietly, leaving nothing out.