Preparing for YOUR moment

_06Y0525bThere is a well-known expression that says, “We spend our lives moving toward a moment of moral clarity and the rest of our lives explaining why that wasn’t the moment.”

But how will you know when it is your moment?
Will you know what do with that moment when it presents itself?

Those are two difficult questions. So let me present what I think is an answer for you – an answer that you may already have within you. But first, let me remind you of a story that many of you may recall, The Magic Pebbles.

One night a group of nomads was preparing to retire for the night when suddenly they were surrounded by a blinding light. They knew they were in the presence of a celestial being … so with great anticipation they awaited a heavenly message of great importance … it was, their moment.

Finally, a powerful, hypnotic voice spoke: “Gather as many pebbles as you can. Put them in your saddlebags. Travel one day’s journey and tomorrow night you will find you are glad and you will find you are sad.” And with that the voice went still and the light disappeared.

The nomads, having heard the message, were disappointed and angry. They had expected a revelation of great universal truth that would give them wealth, health and purpose in the world. But instead they were given a menial task – to pick up a bunch of stones – that made no sense to them at all. However, each one of them half-heartedly picked up a few stones, put them in their saddlebags and went to sleep.

They awoke the next day and began their travels. That night, having almost forgotten the events of previous evening, they made camp and then, reaching into their saddlebags, they discovered that every pebble collected had become a diamond.

And so, the prediction became true. They were glad they had a few diamonds. And they were sad they had not gathered more.

I have three magic pebbles, which I hope you will carry with you: Belief, Light and Service. It is your choice to gather them as you wish and in the future you may be glad or you may be sad.


What will have the greatest and most long-lasting influence on you has been bestowed by your teachers. Often you may think of what they have taught you in class or in the field. What is truly important is the faith they have demonstrated in you, the trust they have extended to you, and the love, care and compassion they have given at the times you most needed it. That unconditional belief in you is the magic imparted to you each day through their interactions with you.

I was reminded of this earlier this year at the time of Mr. Hammell’s passing, when a student from the class of 2013 wrote an email that touched me deeply. She said,

“It’s in this sad time that I reached the realization that those who cross our paths in life, our teachers and mentors, will leave everlasting impressions on us. This realization comes about whether or not we notice it, but only once it’s too late. In many ways, we were moulded with care, respect and the confidence that yes, we will amount to something, that we are enough and then some. It’s taken four years but I’m honoured to be able to come to that realization. I was blessed enough to join such a welcoming family that genuinely loved me and wanted to see me grow.”

My hope is that you will carry with you the profound belief that you were cared for, loved and believed in – it will give you strength, wisdom and courage when your moment presents itself.


Images of light abound here. You know them well and they symbolize the illumination that comes with knowledge. But, at a deeper level, the magic pebble you carry with you when you leave is that inner light residing in each of you. When you feel that life is overwhelming or that the challenges surrounding you are hopeless, remember, if you carry nothing else, you can always carry your inner light.

When Philip Smith spoke at Morning Meeting last year, I was particularly struck by what he said when he concluded his presentation: “If you are like me, and you have no special skill and no special talent; you have no power and you have no authority, you have no money and you have very little hope. Take that little light that is you, and walk into the darkest, stinkiest cavern of fallen humanity that you can find. That little light that is you, will shine with a radiance that will bring tears to the eyes of those that behold it.”

My hope is that even if you believe you have nothing else to share, that you recognize the light within you can chase the darkness or brighten a day. And that is an incredible magic to carry with you.


As we gather each day for Morning Meeting, I want you to remember its deeper purpose – to sit quietly and to listen. It is a time to be informed and inspired by our classmates, teachers and guest speakers. It is a time to sit quietly and listen to our own conscience and what it is telling us to do. It is a time to sit in stillness and listen to what our hearts are compelling us to do. This time of being together in silence is not a time of idleness – it is a time of power, inspiration and action.

An alumnus recently shared the following story with me: A stranger, unaccustomed to Quaker ways, wandered into a meeting for worship and, when he arrived, found that there was absolute silence. Perplexed by what he saw, he assumed that the occasion had not yet started. Consequently he whispered to the man next to him, “When does the service begin?” To this came the very Quakerly reply, “The service begins when the meeting ends.”

My hope is that you remember it’s not what we do in Morning Meeting, rather, it’s what we do when we leave that is important. Carry with you the understanding that collective stillness, silence and listening are some of the best preparations for life, to help you to recognize when your moment presents itself and what you should do in that moment. That is a magic not many people have.

Your service to the world begins when Senior School ends. I have great faith in all of you. And when your moment presents itself, do it!