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Posted on: 3rd January 2014 | Category: Principal's Blog

I was much moved on Christmas Day by the message from Queen Elizabeth, one which she always writes herself: this year, her theme was reflection. The Queen spoke of the balance between action and reflection, and the dangers of our busy lives preventing us from being quiet, and taking stock: reflecting both on the past and on the future. Here at Surval we have tried to build in time for reflection both for girls and for teachers. The aspiration is there but often the practice becomes lost in the busy life of school. It has to be a continual resolution because it will help us all to concentrate on what matters most in our personal and professional development over the years.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to develop this power of reflection, which will bring a sense of wholeness and being at ease with ourselves, secure in who we are. This is an essential part of our corporate life – our spiritual life together in school – and it is often born out of silence. Those moments of silence ‘at the still point of the turning world’, when amidst the pace and rush of our incredibly busy lives we stop, reflect, take in and grow. Many people will know the Japanese version of the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my pace setter ….I shall not rush

He makes me stop for quiet intervals

He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity

He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind

And his guidance is peace.

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day,

I will not fret, for his presence is here.

He is timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance.

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity

By anointing my mind with his oils of tranquillity.

My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours

For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in his house

For ever.

As in the traditional version, this translation makes us think about quietness, serenity, renewal – so that we can go forward. We need the sense of quietness first. One writer puts it like this:

We cannot too often reflect upon the creative power of silence.  We know that serious things have to be done in silence, because we do not have words to measure the immeasurable.  In silence we pray, listen, compose, paint, write, think and suffer.  These experiences are all occasions of giving and receiving, of some encounter with forces that are inexhaustible and independent of us.

We need, all of us, to take in if we are to be able to give out. In order to be whole we need to learn and understand in the silence. Then we absorb that learning into our hearts and souls and lives: we live it. It helps us to become people of integrity – in whom our actions and lives are matched to our beliefs.

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