It was a special activity and they were adeptly coached and mentored by a drama teacher/parent who donated his time. Each kid, all around 12, spoke for 3 or 4 minutes. When they announced that there were going to 28 speeches in succession - it was a little bit like - OK, this is going to be a long haul. I was very happy to be there surrounded by the creative energy, the excitement, the proud parents and the precious children. I was expecting something shorter, perhaps, but, hey, let's see what comes...
In short, it was awesome. Each kid had chosen a topic close to their heart and had written the speech themselves. They had obviously all practiced well - some even spoke from memory. The topics were varied and interesting, topical: Global Warming, Learning From Mistakes, Caring for Animals, The Barrier Reef. One kid spoke on the Importance of Mothers. He got a standing ovation. About five of the boys talked about soccer. Jarrah's speech was about archery - his new passion. It began with the quote from Zen master Eugen Herrigel: "In the case of archery, the hitter and the hit are no longer two opposing objects, but one reality."
Mind focus. Merging.
At some point in the evening, it was cleear the speakers and the listeners became that one reality. At the end of the talks, they sang three songs. One of them was by Paul Kelly and Archie Roach: "From Little Things Big Things Grow", which happens to be one of my favourite songs. The audience sang along on the chorus. Seeing those young souls there, fully alive and in the moment, gushing with innocence and enthusiasm, I pictured how each of them will grow up to be compassionate and strong adults and was overwhelmed with the absolute beauty of humanity. Tears were rushing down my face. I have not felt so in place, connected and honoured to be a human for a long time. I was uplifted and transformed. New seeds of hope and wonder were planted that night. We'll see what grows.