Saturday, August 26, 2017


Sunday, August 20, we celebrated our 18th annual “Monkfest,” our family picnic, for a few hundred guests under a big white tent that protected us from the sun’s rays. As always, it was a celebration of our extended family of students, parishioners, aluminum, neighbors, relatives, and friends from all around -- a celebration of our unity as children of God  in one multi-hued, multi-tongued family.

Sunday, August 20, also marked the fortieth anniversary of the launching of Voyager I, a robot sent to explore the outer solar system and the vast darkness beyond. It contained a gold-plated record and a player, with directions on how to operate it; on the record Carl Sagan had hastily put together a presentation of all manner of human achievement sna hints about who we are, from a song by Chuck Berry to a greeting from President Carter.

Five years ago Voyager I’s magnetic field and cosmic ray measurements indicated that it had exited the magnetic bubble that extends like an umbrella over all the planets: our space robot had become the first human artifact to escape the solar system into interstellar space. Another reminder that we are all on the spaceship earth.

Monday, August 21, about 400 of our students attended our eclipse party (see last week's post). We grilled the hamburgers left over from the Monkfest, and served iced tea and lemonade as well. The field was alive with excited conversations among the hamburger-eating attendees. The eclipse began 25 minutes after last class as the science department handed out special eclipse-watching glasses, and teachers offered looks through specially adapted telescopes and low-tech “pin-hole in cardboard carton” devices. This celebration was one of the best ideas ever. To nme, at least, there was a sense of unity among all of us who depend on the sun for life on our shared planet.

This is not what they looked like!
Thursday, Aug 24, after school I drove four miles to watch the new kids on our rowing team at one of their first practices on the river. As I watched the new kids step gingerly into their seats in the sleek eight-man boat, I knew that these kids were about to be exposed to an important lesson about being human: the eight rowers had to learn how to row as a unit, and had leave behind on the dock their own personal problems and agendas, giving up what they want for what the team needs. As the boat slid away from the dock, the eight kids and the coxswain became their own world. They would determine whether their boat would be a pleasant place or not, whether it would be successful or not.

As I watched them begin to row tentatively together for the first time, I thought about the fact that all of us on the planet are in the same boat, and that we, too, can decide whether the time spent here will be pleasant and successful or not.

Face painting at Monkfest

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