At some point in December I start carrying it – no definitive date. I slip it, small and silver colored, in a vest pocket or the pocket of my canvas jacket. It jingles quietly, muffled, as though coming from a distance. It’s periodic, but I can count on its definitive sound when I shake out of my jacket and hang it on the walking stick in the corner of my office. A small bell.
The idea comes from a well known children’s book, but I have pried it out of the pages and made it something of my own. The first bell I started carrying came from a train ride in North Conway, The Polar Express, where everyone was given a bell just like the little boy in the story. The train ran from the center of town up to Bear Peak and there were wolves in the woods that we looked at from the train windows. I have other bells, and this year’s emerged from a box of ornaments with wooden sleighs and reindeer. Carrying the bell has become part of my December ritual, a quirk of the season
I’ve turned it into a reminder to look for the gift, the possible, the magic. It rings, I look. Here is a smattering of what I have seen this week: the sunrise pinks on Ragged, Ty loading up a food pantry box in the kitchen, the first Pete Talk in assembly, the sound of hammers on the side of the Sugarhouse, the laughter of “elves” during the open house last Sunday, an endlessly looping video of a buzzer beating shot during the boys’ jv basketball game, a well-written blog from Mountain. These simple gifts are all around, ready to be unwrapped, ready to share their magic. The bell reminds me to look, to be grateful, and I wonder if we all just saw a little more of what I call the “small marvelous,” kindness might root outward incrementally for the individual, impressively for the whole.
We break for the holidays today. We all have our rituals, our faiths, our families, our way of sharing best wishes and gifts. We all have our reminders for the season. The bell is simply mine that I share with you, a small gift.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School