The Lord be with you!
As we gather under the dome of heaven, Lord God, smile upon us and be pleased with us. Bless our land, America, and lead us to be a blessing to the world. Bless this bit of land that in your Name we consecrate to the benefit of young people. Bless those whose hard work and generosity make this day possible. Bless our gathering, guests, administrators, teachers, and students of Holy Nativity School, even as we bless you, O Lord our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
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Good morning, I have no more right to share memories than anyone here, except by right of Ancient Age and right of First Possession (this land is my land, this land is your land, but I was here first) unless someone here played on this field before I did.
Far more than anyone can say here today Rebecca, this field is blessed by your presence as his mother and consecrated by memories of William, who was so loved at our school years ago. His classmates have grown up and gone on into life, but William Hall, a vigorous, athletic, enthusiastic little boy so full of life and love, is always here in our hearts. This is William’s Field.
In the day when I first played here as a boy, first grade, six years old and growing, this ground was quite plain, sand and sandspurs, not so grand as you are making it! My first time kicking a ball out here, or Dodge Ball, or “Red Rover, Red Rover, let somebody come over,” or running from girls with cooties, was Fall Semester 1941, seventy-five years ago right here right now. School and life and the world were different, it was before Pearl Harbor, America was not yet at war, there was no fence around the campus, no need for a fence. No paved streets, dusty dirt roads all round the school, and as we became old enough, we walked from homes in the Cove, and home for lunch, walked or rode bicycles and parked them in the bike rack under those same scrub oaks lining Linda Avenue.
But usually there was not time before the bell, I dropped my bike and ran into class late. Nearly every day I was late until my sixth grade teacher became so exasperated she sent me to the office to see the principal. Her intimidating office was where Judy Hughes’ office is now, and even after seventy years I’m reluctant to go there.
A mix of collie and German shepherd, my huge, hairy dog Happy was always here, sleeping in the classroom or roaming the playground, and when we looked out the window and saw the dogcatcher’s truck cruising the block, my teacher would send me out quickly to get Happy and bring him inside to class until the dogcatcher withdrew.
Besides sand and sandspurs, there were mounds of giant red ants out here on the playground, and in fact I’m standing on a spot where I used to catch red ants, pick one up between thumb and forefinger and quickly drop it in a jar before it could grab with it’s pincers to cut and sting.
During summer vacation in the 1940s, the city sponsored organized play out here for us, every year a Dog Show, and every year my dog Happy got the blue ribbon, not for “Best of Breed” or such, but blue ribbon for Largest Dog. One summer I had to fight with the judge against another boy’s dog to keep Happy from getting the red ribbon for second largest, and Happy won. A blue ribbon winner, my dog was never second in anything, including size and dogfights out here on this playing field.
This is a holy place, sanctified by Jesus the Word of God who said, “let there be dry land,” and it was so. Sanctified by memories of William Hall. And sanctified by God’s love of every child who ever played here, and every child who ever will.
As ground is broken for “Holy Pavilion” this morning, I pray that this holy place will always be filled with joy, sports, fun and competition, love, healthy children, and in your life and Time, as in my life and Time, happy memories.
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The Lord be with you!
And now as we leave may the Lord grant you the grace to see that your vocation in life is to make a better place, a better nation, a better world. As God promised Abraham,
- may this bit of land at our school be your own in your heart all your days.
- may you, as you go through life, be a blessing to all who see you and know you and hear your name.
- and may the Lord God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit bless you and prosper you in all goodness. Amen.