Exactly a year ago we broke ground on St. Timothy’s School. And Yesterday we celebrated the opening ceremony for the school. For the last few weeks I have been day dreaming about what this day would be like. How the school would look. I imagined it completely finished, painted in beautiful colors with a big playground. It would be a beautiful sunny day and we would take pictures of the school with Mt. Kilimanjaro rising up in the backgroud. It would be the perfect Kodak moment. But the reality of the day was a very different type of picture.
We arrived at 11 am to find all the teachers and parents running around putting up decorations. The ceremony was running two hours behind because one of the buses carrying children broke down. Everywhere there were construction workers putting in the window panes, shoveling dirt, hammering the walls. The school still looked like a complete construction zone with piles of dirt and bricks everywhere. Then right as we were about to start with the ceremony it started to rain. The children and the audience all had to move their chairs to sit under tarps that were dripping water everywhere. It was pretty chaotic. Nothing was like I imagined. It was then I remembered a favorite quote of mine which is “expectations are the source of all disappointment” and immediately I let go of my unrealistic expectations.
The ceremony started with beautiful songs written by the students about Mama Hope. Then they did a play about why getting an education is so important to them. One of the students, named Dorothy wrote the welcoming speech and she said “our promise is that we will strive for excellence and become powerful leaders who will take care of the most vulnerable children in our community when we grow up.” Her words moved me to tears because I realized that it was not about the kodak moment but the instead the reality that the building of this school provides this community with hope and opportunity.
I have found in my life that the moment i let go of my expectations is when something incredible or even magical happens. And as we were getting ready to cut the ribbon on the new building ashes started raining on us out of the sky from a fire I could see burning about half a mile away. This moment was very symbolic for me because St. Timothy’s was built in memory of Vince Mulroy who was Mama Hope’s Chairman of the board. Ashes always tend to remind me that an ending is followed by a new beginning.
As the ashes fell on the community members and parents and I watched them clap and cheer for the students, I understood that their shared hope for a better future could never be captured in a photograph