“The voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

‘We saw his star in the East…’

We arrive at the end of a great term here at Rokeby School. Why? Because we have been getting on marvellously, learning together and helping the boys to grow and flourish in their own ways, finding themselves and developing their skills in myriad ways.

I have always rather liked the wise men in the Christmas Story. It is the idea of three star-gazing sages seeking an answer to a mystery and travelling a long way to find the answer – only for the answer to be more profound and peculiar than the astronomical sign – which I find appealing. I like to imagine they popped in to see King Herod, power speaking to power as usually is the case. However, there were no answers coming from that quarter, just the darkness of jealousy and fear.

Eventually, as we all know, the diverse and slightly bemused trio arrived in Bethlehem and unloaded some rather quirky gifts on a grubby little crew. Not your usual rattle and soft, cuddly toy. Myrrh? I found myself smiling when watching the younger boys in the choir trying to sing that at the super Carol Concert last Friday.

Now, whatever you believe, the story is genuinely wonder-full. It beats the rather narrow, consumerist Christmas that is the best the material world can offer us. Lots of nice things and good food, but ultimately we find ourselves wanting something else… something less obvious but far more profound.

Amidst the animal droppings, the story tells us there was something special and hopeful. Outside, in the sky, a glimpse of otherworldly glory seen by illiterate, smelly shepherds. From the outsider’s viewpoint this was indeed a motley crew and the story writers were trying to convey something quite radical: that heaven can be seen, known and experienced by changing your viewpoint… completely.

There are quite a few ideas out there regarding how to change one’s viewpoint: taking a mindful approach, the ‘growth mind-set’, ‘flipping it’ and even ‘obliquity’. All are interesting and helpful in their way.

If you want a very inspiring and challenging story of one man who chose to look at his life differently, in spite of losing three limbs and living through much heartache, read the story of Joan Jose Florian, the Columbian para-cyclist.

I find our boys inspiring. As Mr Attenborough wrote last week, it is they who can shoot the arrow without striving and still hit the target. Much as we see ourselves as teaching them, they have so much to teach us, because they have not over-learned those ideas and can revitalise a rather anxious Christmas with their sense of wonder.

In the words of that famous Christmas song, Do They Know It’s Christmas?

‘At Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid

At Christmas Time, we let in light and we banish shade.’

Rokeby families and staff, allow yourself time this Christmas to gaze quietly at the light of a star and start to see things differently. It might change your life.

It was Vernon Dursley who famously said to Harry Potter:

“Don’t talk rubbish, there’s no platform nine-and-three-quarters.’

Ah, but there is…

Have a wonder-full Christmas.

J. R. Peck – Headmaster