Good morning, students. And good morning to each of our parents, and especially to our very special guests, our grandparents.
We are thrilled to have you here for Recitation and Grandparents’ Day. While I’ve not met all of you, I have met many of you, and it’s my privilege to welcome you to Petra today.
As we begin our recitation this morning and prepare to enjoy the rest of the day we have planned, I’m reminded of these words in Deuteronomy 32:7:
Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.
Grandparents, with this verse in mind (and if I could be so bold), could I share two things that we – the younger generations – need from you today?
First, we need you to remember your days of old. You are the eldest among us and have lived in a world that we have not. Your grandchildren don’t need you to be hip or cool; they need you to be wonderfully old-fashioned as they “consider the years of many generations” – years that look very different from the ones in which they are growing up. As the poet John Donne wrote, “No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face.” Your age is a gift – to you and to your grandkids – and I would ask that you embrace it as such, even as you make a present of it to them.
Second, we need you to play show and tell with us! As we encourage our students to “ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you,” we need your actions and stories to align. Model for them virtue and explain to them the good ways things used to be; show them how to live – with humility, with gratitude, and with the interests of others before your own – and then call them – repeatedly if necessary (and it will be necessary!) – to imitate you as you imitate Christ.
The challenge of what we in classical education call “mimesis” or “imitation” is enormous, of course, and you’re not going to get it right every time. But, if you’re brave enough to try and God blesses the attempt, the good news, according to philosopher Andy Rooney, is this: “Elephants and grandchildren never forget.”
The presence of a grandparent confirms that parents were, indeed, little once, too, and that people who are little can grow to be big, can become parents, and one day even have grandchildren of their own. So often we think of grandparents as belonging to the past; but in this important way, grandparents, for young children, belong to the future.
I am so grateful for your presence, support, and encouragement of our young students and in the life of our school. You have dropped off and picked up in a pinch, attended events and offered homework help, and many of you have sacrificially and financially supported our vision of seeing students prepared to live purposeful, godly lives.