This is an abridged version of Mr. Sjolund's opening day sermon.
Good morning. Today is a pretty special day, not only because it's the first day of school, but it's also the day we're celebrating the eclipse.
It would be hard to pick up a newspaper this morning that did not have an article in it referring to the eclipse. And, that's as it should be. As our Science Department said on Saturday, something of this magnitude only happens in any given spot once every 400 years or so.
But here's the thing I find most fascinating and comforting: from the beginning of time, God knew this day was coming. This is the way God set it up.
Why is that important? It's important because we don't ever want to lose sight of the fact that God is the one who put all of this in motion. To God, who knows everything there is to know about an eclipse, this is just another day in creation.
I'm not saying that it's not an awesome day. It is. I am saying that EVERY day is an awesome day in creation. It's just that today we're really going to pay attention.
You can walk all over this wonderful campus, any time of year, and see beautiful trees, flowers, and bushes. You can walk to Piney Point and see a glorious view of the plateau and valley. If you let it, if you're paying attention, it will take your breath away.
According to Southern Living Magazine, SAS is one the 10 most beautiful high schools in the South. Although our buildings are pretty, I think Southern Living chose us for our natural beauty. But here's the thing, if I never look up long enough to see it, if I stare at my phone as I walk from building to building, or if I never hike to Piney Point, then I may never notice the beauty that surrounds me.
Many of you have heard me talk about the video of concert violinist Joshua Bell playing in the Washington, DC Metro. Three days earlier, Mr. Bell had played to a sold-out audience in Boston's Symphony Hall where the average ticket price was about a hundred dollars. The Washington Post wanted to see how people would react to stumbling across the beauty of Mr. Bell's music in the course of their regular day.
On a Friday morning in January 2007, Joshua Bell played some of the most beautiful classical pieces ever written for 43 minutes in L'Enfant Plaza station. One thousand and ninety-seven people passed by. Twenty-seven took a moment to throw money into his violin case. Only seven people stopped for a minute or more.
When I saw this video, I asked myself, "Would I have stopped?" The truth is I don't know. Perhaps it would depend on what I had on my plate or mind that day.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the question isn't whether I would have stopped. The real question is whether I would have noticed him playing in the first place.
When Joshua Bell plays in Symphony Hall, it is like today's viewing of the eclipse. It's an awesome event worth planning one's entire schedule around. But when Joshua Bell plays in the Washington DC metro station, he becomes part of the everyday scenery. Unless people take the time to notice, they're going to miss it.
We are about to witness an utterly fascinating astronomical event. But don't ever forget that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we're surrounded by awesome, beautiful, even mind-blowing elements of creation. From the changing of seasons to bugs and birds and every other kind of animal to blades of grass and rose petals to rainclouds and trees to the wind, and the waves, and the stars, and the sun and the moon, we are surrounded by beauty and miracles everywhere and always. And God created them all.
As you watch the eclipse today, think about this: The same God who changed the seasons, who made the animals and the trees, and the waves and the rose petals, the same God who at the beginning of time put the planets into motion so that the earth would orbit the sun and the moon would orbit the earth and that those orbits would come to a point on this day to create the eclipse that we get to witness, the same creator that made all that happen, is the same one that made you. And you are God's most prized creation. That's worth noticing every day. Amen.