November 2023

Dear Oak Knoll School Community,

Last week was a particularly busy one for me at Oak Knoll. In addition to the standard fare of meetings, I attended two Halloween parades, three All Saints Day Masses, a Lower School Day of the Dead celebration, an Upper School assembly, and the launch of the Royal Boutique. It certainly felt like the busyness of the holiday season had arrived. There was a beautiful mix of celebrations, prayerful reverence, and holiday spirit. I loved being part of this wide variety of activities on campus.

Despite these big events, there was one small, quiet experience that really stood out. It was unexpected and very simple but the most powerful moment of the week for me. It was Thursday night, around 8 o’clock. I had just finished a board committee meeting and a few subsequent phone calls when it was time to pack up and head home for the night. I was the only one in Grace Hall. All the lights were out upstairs, and most of the lights were out downstairs. My eye caught the stained-glass window to the chapel because the light on the tabernacle was shining through. I felt compelled to go to the chapel for a moment before leaving. I opened the door, and the interior of the chapel was a breathtaking sight. In addition to the tabernacle, I saw five candles on the votive prayer holder still flickering. I walked over to turn the candles off to conserve the battery and allow for them to be relit the next day by anyone who wanted to offer a prayer. In that moment, I realized that I was picking up the five candles that five other people had picked up the same day to offer a prayer. Of course, I had no idea what prayers those individuals had offered, but I realized that each of them had gone in there to lift someone or something up in prayer.I don’t know what it was about that moment, but it felt especially meaningful to me. After I turned off the candles, I took a moment to pray for the people who prayed for other people, somehow wanting to honor their prayer offerings. I shared this experience with the Upper School students and faculty during the assembly on Friday. The guest speaker talked about positive psychology and the power of choosing joy even in the face of difficulty and darkness in the world. I explained that the candles that I turned off the night before made me wonder if the people who lit them were using prayer as a means to take action in a situation that they could not necessarily change. That is often the impetus of prayer for me.

Whether these were prayers for peace, prayers for comfort to ease suffering, prayers for strength, or prayers for some other reason, I am happy to have had this experience as we move into November, a month that calls us to be centered on gratitude. Ultimately, it was a feeling of gratitude that I had taken away from that experience — gratitude to work at a place with people who take a moment out of their day to pray for others.

My prayer today is that each one of you is struck like I was with a moment of quiet but profound gratitude for one another amid the clamor of our busy lives in this fragile world.





Jennifer G. Landis
Head of School

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