(Newspaper columnist Jeanie Miley was so awestruck by the voices of children at Hillcrest Professional Development School that she had to write about it. Her column entitled “Hear what the children want for new year” is republished below with permission from the San Angelo Standard Times. Miley can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Hear what the children want for new year
If we could gather the children of the world together in one place and ask them what their wish for the new year would be, I wonder what the children would say?
That is probably too grandiose an idea, and so to make it more manageable, I'd have to imagine what it would be like if I could gather together all the children that I know and ask them, "If you could have a wish for the world, what would it be?"
Last week, I was caught off-guard by a heart-stopping moment at the music program for Hillcrest Professional Development School in Waco, Texas. Invited by my grandsons, I expected to enjoy the program, but I had no idea I would be zapped by the ending!
The choral director's expertise in managing at least a couple of hundred students was incredible. I was thrilled by how well the children sang, and their interaction with their teacher was impressive. Obviously, the teacher and the children loved what they were doing, and as I watched them, I was reminded of the importance of music and music education for children.
At the end, however, the children and their last song got me, right in the heart.
Flanked by large poinsettia trees on either side of the stage, the oldest students began to sing these words: "If I could write a magic song that everyone would sing, I would write of love and hope and joy and things that peace could bring," and I was spellbound.
"A Song of Peace," written by Teresa Jennings, is a new song for me, but I will never forget that moment when gradually, grade by grade, the younger children who were sitting at the front stood to sing, adding their voices to this song, the finale of the evening.
By the time the children got to "And when we sang my magic song all hate and war would cease," I was working hard not to cry.
What got me in the heart was hearing the wish for peace and love, hope and joy coming from children's sweet young voices. I was so touched by what I was hearing, in fact, that I wanted to cry out to all of us adults, "Are you hearing what the children want?"
The words of the song were in such sharp contrast to the state of the world and the complexity of the problems of the world that I was stunned by the call to peace, sung by the children. Bombarded by world news, I'd almost forgotten that peace was an option!
Listening to the children's wish for the world, I reflected on the responsibility we Big People have for caring for the little ones in ways that keep them safe. It is we who make big decisions and manage things who have also been entrusted with the well-being and welfare of children. We adults are charged with reassuring the children that they are safe and loved and free to hope. Those of us who are the stewards and caregivers of the young may also sing the songs of peace, but we must also learn and teach and practice the ways of making peace.
Peace is a miracle, but making peace requires more than magical thinking. Peace is the gift and result of words and ways that create peace, and it is a daunting, difficult challenge. Peace is bought with the hard work of love and justice, and it starts with a change of mind.
Looking back on this year, I give thanks to the children and teachers at Hillcrest PDS for the priceless gift they gave me in their singing and in this song, this "Song of Peace." Looking forward to the new year, I say yes to the miracle and the challenge of peace.
"What do you want for Christmas?" a friend's grandchild was asked. The child responded, "I want my family to love each other."
Peace starts at home, doesn't it, with one person, one family, making loving choices?
I want that, too, for my family, for all families and for the family of humankind.
It's a big hope. It's a lot of work, and along the way, it helps to sing.