Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 5

Monday, May 7th

Sri Lakshmi Hindu Temple

Lunch in Harvard Square

Harvard Art Museum

Dinner – Harvard Square

The Humanist Hub Discussion Group with Greg Epstein

This morning we had a beautiful experience at the Sri Lakshmi Temple. Raju was our guide, and he was very welcoming. Rama, a volunteer at the temple, also was a part of that welcoming and his salt and sugar story was clever. All around the room were carefully carved shelters for each manifestation of God. It wasn’t so much the shelters that made the beauty, but the statues inside them. Each deity was clothed in silk and shimmering jewelry. Their carved expressions were of glorious victory or serenity.
-Siri

The tranquility of the Sri Lakshmi Temple was amazing. Rama had a beautiful story that made a lot of sense about how you know that God is there (sort of). If you put sugar in water, it dissolves. Then if you put salt in, it dissolves as well. But, if you taste the water, you can taste the salt and sugar. I like the notion of the mother is God and father is God. It was truly inspiring to hear that.
-Magda

After lunch we walked to the Harvard Art Museum. It was amazing, overwhelming, but also felt more serene than any museum I’ve ever been to. After looking at many of the different art pieces, I realized the irony that all the images of death and pain looked the most alive, whereas the live people portraits often have a dead look in their eyes.
-Hazel

Finally, we went to the Humanist Hub. I was overwhelmed by the distance our conversation moved. Greg Epstein had filled the place of religion with a different type of community. He spoke with the air of a preacher, but a message of a different side. Our whole conversation was filled with ideas that I had not thought about, and a new perspective from our class that I hadn’t heard.
-Anna

Line, shape, color
Is the wife grieving?
Or just paint?

Worship, care
Devoted to Devas
Small and large

Human life
Doubt, yet search for good
None are perfect.
-Julia

 

Soundscape from Sri Lakshmi

 

Middle School River of Spirit Day 4

Sunday, May 6

Morning service at Emmanuel Church
Bach Cantata BWV 225

Lunch on Newberry Street

Common Cathedral – Outdoor service for the homeless

A conversation with the Reverend Pamela Werntz of Emmanuel Church

Speak with Reverend Randall Quackenbush
Anchor Church

Speak with Rev. Patrick Ward of Trinity
Compline Service at Trinity Church

At Emmanuel Church, they had such good music. The choir was amazing and the baby was so cute. The music at Emmanuel was so slow and thoughtful. I really had time to think about the service and the lyrics. The wine was much better than the synagogue’s sweet wine.
-David

I felt like I started to understand what they were saying. The giving and receiving of bread and wine is a powerful thing. I thought what Pamela said about what the bread represents was interesting. She said it is up to the receiver and not the giver to decide what it means.
-Eliot

The stark contrast between Emmanuel and Common Cathedral was extreme. What Common Cathedral lacked in charisma, it way more than made up for it spirit, love, and good intention.
-Huxley

Then we went to the service at Anchor Church which was unlike anything else. It has a lot of modern music as opposed to old hymns, which was nice. We also had a discussion. I really enjoyed this. It was my favorite part and the only part I felt I learned something from.
-Solomon

I liked going to Trinity Compline. I was able to do one of my favorite things: sitting in silence. I could feel the silence around me but I didn’t need to fight it; I let it in. The cross glowed above me.
-Nomi

The service at Trinity Church was absolutely amazing… incense curled around the cross in the air. It was easily one of the most beautiful bunch of minutes in my life.
-Owen J.

We sat in silence during Compline. The incense rose in thick clouds engulfing the cross in smoky respect. I sat in silence, speaking for the first time in a God I don’t believe in.
-Lily

Compline Service at Trinity Church

 

 

Bach Cantata BWV 225, 2nd movement

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 3

Saturday, May 5th

Morning Shabbat and Bar Mitzvah at Temple Ohabei Shalom

Lunch in Coolidge Corner

Thousand Buddha Temple

Dinner at Eataly food court

The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence by Step Afrika Dance Co.
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre

Today was the first day I ever went to a Bar Mitzvah. It was a long and harmonious service for a boy named Zach. Throughout it, I could feel the love, stillness, and calmness of “a young patawan growing into a promised Jew.” I now feel very attached to the idea that the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah is the Jewish “everyone has the chance for enlightenment.”
-Hazel

[The Thousand Buddha Temple] a lot more alive than the other Buddhist temples we visited because people were visiting and practicing. I kind of felt bored during the slow walk meditation but it was fun to do the fast walk meditation. I felt so relaxed during the breathing meditation. I liked how the chant was so simple but powerful.
-Owen B.

Our last stop of the day was going to a step Afro performance. I thought it was a beautiful example of dance theater that triggered an emotional response from both Alabama and our odyssey in Boston. The performer’s truth flowed toward the audience in kinetic, electric waves. Using humans as a living, breathing, and malleable art form created such depth and perspective.
-Lily

The class walked to a dance musical called The Migration. It was so energetic and everyone acting was so talented. It reminded me of what somebody said at The Crossing that connecting and participating in a rhythm can bring everybody together.
-Owen J.

Haiku-ish by Solomon

Drums, bright lights
Pervading rhythm
Deep message

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey Day 2

Friday, May 4

Head into Boston

Ramakrishna Vedanta Society
Swami Tyanananda

Lunch in Harvard Square

The Pluralism Project at Harvard University
Alexis Salomone

Dinner in Coolidge Corner

Conversation with Reb Moshe Waldoks of Temple Beth Zion

Kabbalat Shabbat at Temple Beth Zion

At The RamakrishnaVedanta Society I had a feeling of peacefulness right when I entered the building. I was struck by the smell of incense, then was welcomed by a friendly monk who I really liked by the end of the visit.

-Owen B.

After our conversation with Reb Moshe, we had Shabbat. I was looking forward to it because I had hoped it would be like home. It was nice, but it was very different from what I do at home. It was hard for me to keep up with the prayers and songs. It must have been crazy for all the others. Even though it wasn’t what I was used to, there was something powerful about the words. After the service, I felt lighter.

-Solomon

At the Pluralism Project we were able to laugh at topics usually frowned upon. This is what the world needs to get through disagreement. We need to be able to sit down and have a conversation and share stories, concerns, hopes, and then be open to all.

-Nomi

The drum and the pure force of [Reb Moshe’s] voice brought meaning to words I had no meaning for. I especially liked when we stood in a circle around the alter. I felt so connected, so alive, so clueless and vulnerable, ready to accept anything that came wholeheartedly. As we walked on the streets on the way home, I began to notice the sheer diversity of Boston. Hijab’s blended in with Yarmulkes and t-shirts. I sat and ate red bean paste filled buns at a table less than a foot off the ground, the sound of laughing and rapid fire Chinese filling my ears.

-Julia

It feels so nice to go to all these places and feel myself and the class becoming a part of the culture and community there. I feel that we are helping to create ties of friendship and community spirit that can last for a long time. Everyone has been so welcoming and opening. I have not figured out if there is a religion that I prefer, but I have been very pleasantly surprised by the kindness shown by all the people we have visited with.

-Emmy

 

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey – Day 1

Thursday May 3rd

New England Peace Pagoda

Wat Boston Buddha Vararam (Thai Buddhist Temple)
Lesson, chant, and meditation with monk from Theravada tradition. (questions)

Friendly Crossways Hostel
Drop off luggage and get tour.

Head into Boston

The Crossing – Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
Dinner, service, and conversation with Reverend Marsha Hoecker

Return to Friendly Crossways – journal, sleep

The place that really spoke to me today was the Buddhist temple. I think the very reason I felt closer to this place was because the monk was speaking a different language. I can’t quite explain it but it was as if his words flowed over me. I felt his teachings rather than hearing them.

-Siri

..But nothing really compared to The Crossing. I really enjoyed the connection I felt. This may be because Christianity is familiar, I don’t really know. I felt super engaged throughout the entire service. It was very welcoming and not as strict as what Im used to. The way they gave a time for people to do their own thing reflected how their community works, letting people come and go, welcoming anyone who is willing to listen.

-Anna

I think that there is a sense of wholeness and completeness from singing, especially about God. The sense of trust and faith that everyone at The Crossing had was a feeling that I noticed.

-Eliot

I have found that, so far, the two biggest messages or parts of the places of worship has been rhythm/music and social action. At The Peace Pagoda they have their peace walks, and many of the people at The Crossing were involved in social action and one even said that you can not be Christian without social action. On the rhythm/music front, The Peace Pagoda had the drum and gong. At the Thai Buddhist Temple, the chant had a certain melody to it. And The Crossing had a huge focus on music and some said music helped them feel closer to God.

-Julian

Extra thoughts from Hazel:
1.) The cross as a symbol for the intersection of God and human
2.) Religion is an art, not a science.
3.) The term “stranger danger” and many other western culture thinking reflects on one of the major differences with Buddhist thinking.

 

Middle School River of Spirit Odyssey – Get Ready

Just a few days now until the Middle School heads to the greater Boston area on their River of Spirit Odyssey. During their seven day journey students will participate and observe 15  different spiritual services as they try to understand the nature of spirit and how it is integral in so many people’s lives. Just one more piece in the driving question of what it means to be human.

March 8 & 9 at 7 p.m.: Middle School Performance, “The Field”

This is a time when we reflect on the big ideas we have been exploring through the year and collaborate to craft a theatrical presentation. It is interesting that the theme for this year’s performance, The Field, was greatly inspired by an essay that the students read by the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and a poem by the Sufi poet, Rumi, that he includes in his essay. Students are striving to understand the complicated and divisive world we live in and are putting their thoughts and words into action in this community centered work of theater and music.
Performances of The Field are on Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9 at 7:00pm in the Arts Barn Theater. There will also be a performance for the school on Friday, March 9 at 10:00am. All are invited and we hope you can join us for this provocative, humorous, tuneful, and thoughtful show.

Parent Meeting, Saturday, Feb 3, 9-12 noon followed by a Community Lunch! (snow date Feb 10)

“How Each Program Embodies Hilltop’s Mission”

This is the most informative pedagogical parent education event of the year — The Montessori Curriculum at its CORE. Don’t miss out!

We recently went through the process of reviewing and revising our Mission Statement, and were struck by how intentionally we live out the “practice” of “responsible independence” at Hilltop. We also felt it was very important to include the “caring community” within which we grow these responsible independent learners. Join us for a participatory morning with a visit to every program

Childcare provided with fun activities
and materials planned.
Pizza provided by Hazel and Hilltop,
bring a salad or dessert if you can.
RSVP to frontdesk@hilltopmontessori.org
or sign up at the front desk.

January 5, 2018 / Middle School students present “Life in Brattleboro” – The Society Films Project

Hilltop Montessori Middle School presents – Life in Brattleboro The Society Films Project. Please join us for an evening of student films celebrating the work of individuals in the Brattleboro community

January 5, 2018
Showings at 5:30 and 6:30 pm At The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro, VT

For more information: www.hilltopmontessori.org 802-257-0500

To watch the films here, click play list on upper left to choose a film:

Open House Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 9 -11am A Look at the Montessori Environment and Experience

Current and prospective parents are invited to join us as we observe the classrooms in action and talk with students, current parents and teachers about the programs, the school and the Montessori method of learning.

This is a great first step to learning about the school and hearing from our program directors and students.

The event is designed for parents and interested adults. RSVP at 802-257-0500 or info@hilltopmontessori.org

Cancellations will be posted on our website if we need to cancel due to weather conditions at www.hilltopmontessori.org or at the WKVT or WTSA radio websites.