In his Opening Chapel remarks, Head of School Nathan L. Sheldon invited our Casady Community to "dream small" with our acts of kindness.
Dear Casady Community,
Welcome to the 2018-19 school year! This morning our Lower, Middle, and Upper Division students gathered together for one of my favorite events of the year, Opening Chapel, to celebrate the beginning of this new school year. Opening Chapel was recorded on Facebook Live and is available for you to watch on the Casady School page, but I've also provided my Chapel talk in full below. I am looking forward to a wonderful and exciting year of success and happiness for our Casady Community:
Good morning and welcome back! And a special welcome to the more than 120 students new to Casady this year. We are so glad you are joining our community.
It is hard to believe that, this year, we will celebrate Casady School’s 72nd year of working with students so that they can grow in body and mind and so that they can develop a sense of belonging to something greater than themselves.
This year, 79 students will reach the pinnacle of high school and, next year, will begin a new chapter of exploration beyond these gates.
As a School, we have moved well beyond the years of feeling like a mustard seed, as Rev. Baer read in our text, we no longer have to have faith that this institution will make it. We now must have faith that we will fully live into the lives of each of you the mission of this great School. To do so in such a way that each of you will leave here prepared not only to succeed but also to live lives of balance, purpose, and joy. We are standing on the shoulders of all the people—students, teachers, and staff—who have made this School what it is today, and we must endeavor to be the broad shoulders that future generations will stand on.
Today, I want to ask that we focus on one theme this year. I ask that we "dream small" with our acts of kindness. How often do you find yourself thinking, when I get older, or when I can drive, or when I get my first real job, I will do this big act of kindness, or when I can start a foundation with lots of money I can help lots of people in big, kind ways, or when I get to...(you fill in the blank.)
I want to submit to you that the way we will change this world is to begin now. Let's start with the small acts of kindness every chance we find.
Erma Bombeck, a famous syndicated columnist, who went on to serve on the Presidential counsel for women in 1978 for the implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment, recounts a story of a time when she was traveling to Chicago. She recalled how she had gotten through the check-in line at the airport and had more than 30 minutes of quiet time, which for her was a rarity. No sooner had she opened her book than an elderly woman came and sat down next to her and said, "I bet it's cold in Chicago." "I suppose..." Erma replied, trying not to look up and out of her book. "I haven't been to Chicago for three years," the woman continued. "That's nice" Erma replied, nose still in the book in hopes the lady would leave her alone. The elderly lady then said, "My husband’s casket is on this plane. We were married for 53 years. I don't drive and the funeral director was so nice. He drove me to the airport today." The woman kept talking to Erma and Erma realized that all this woman needed was someone kind enough to just sit and listen. After a bit, they boarded the plane and the two were separated, but, as Erma was putting her bags in the overhead bin she could hear the elderly lady say to the person next to her, "I bet it's cold in Chicago..."
All that elderly lady needed was a kind person to listen to her, a small act of kindness, nothing big. A friend of mine not too long ago was at a Walmart and noticed a pretty beat up car full of what appeared to be the owner’s belongings, and he also noticed that the front tires were just about worn out. So, he went into the Walmart, paid for two new tires and then wrote a kind, anonymous note saying if someday they could help someone else to please consider doing so along with the receipt and put it on the windshield and left. Who knows what impact that had, maybe none. Or maybe it was just the kindness and lift that helped someone believe in humanity again. My friend will never know, nor does it matter, what mattered was he dreamed small, he didn't wait for a big event or for him to have enough money to change all the bad tires of everyone in Oklahoma City. No, he did it for that one person right then. If we all would simply do acts of kindness, small acts of kindness and not wait for just the right time, or for more money to make a bigger impact, or to get recognition, we would have a world of people who care for each other, and our small dreams will have changed the world for the better.
This past weekend, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the sit-in by Clara Luper. Sixty years ago, she, her son, her daughter, and a group of Youth Council members sat in the Katz Drug Store in downtown Oklahoma City when they were not supposed to just because of the color of their skin. Clara's kind and nonviolent sit-in occurred more than a year and a half before the Greensboro, NC sit-ins that garner much of the attention in the civil rights movement. Two days after the event, Katz Drug Store de-segregated its lunch counters in three states, and her one small dream had a ripple effect across three states and was the beginnings of a major Civil Rights Movement, all because she dreamed small and acted.
Most every religion teaches kindness as a key virtue of its religion. Be it Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Bahai, Buddhism, Native Spirituality, Unitarianism, Christianity, and many others. I want to close by playing a YouTube video excerpt from Christian artist Josh Wilson, with photos by Jo Anderson, titled "Dream Small". I want to encourage you as you listen to the words that you replace God and Jesus with the person of your faith that is your higher power. The words are powerful and good regardless of what faith you hold and are universally true. Josh Wilson encourages us to Dream small, to live one day at a time and to find little ways to help each other, like visiting a widow down the street or dancing with a friend with special needs. These are the things that change the world. So here it is, Josh Wilson's second verse and chorus:
As we leave here today, let's all Dream Small. Let's find the small, easy ways to be kind to each other right here at School and to others in the communities we live in, and let's not wait until we can do it all, let's start right now, right here changing the world one random act of kindness at a time. Then, let's sit back and watch the ripple effect we have on our community. I promise it will be amazing.
I am so glad to have each and every one of you—faculty, students, and staff—back for another great year. Let's go forward this year confident and kind, and may we always remember who we are and what we represent.
Nathan L. Sheldon