Thought for the Week – 26 April 2019

As the stresses and strains of public examinations descend on our older girls this term, there often develops a sense that one has to be glued to one’s desk in order to be productive. Our bodies were not really designed with constant study in mind and we run a very real risk of becoming less productive if we do not take care of our physical selves and also our souls. Especially at this beautiful time of year, I encourage us all to take some time outside, simply absorbing the awe and wonder of the world around us. We might wish to do this alone or perhaps with a friend, but the point is to be able to immerse ourselves fully in something beyond our everyday cares and commitments. We might hike up to Win Green to gaze down upon Shaftesbury, bury our nose in the ethereal fragrance of the lily-of-the-valley growing at the front of school, look in wonder at the mathematical precision of a fern frond unfolding or exult in the staggering beauty and abundance of the rhododendron flowers. Simply walking slowly up the main drive, under the sweeping beech boughs as they break bud, will make your heart sing. To experience such beauty in nature is to meet with the transcendent, and it is a great antidote to the mundane or repetitive aspects of exam revision. Keats inspires us to do exactly this, in his ‘Ode on Melancholy’, written 201 years ago:

Then glut they sorrow on a morning rose,

Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,

Or on the wealth of globèd peonies.

I wish you joy in your looking!

by Maria Young, Headmistress