Message from the Chaplain: 13 October 2023


One of the Christian signs and symbols in the chapel that we learnt about in Grade 5 Divinity is the pelican.

The pelican, in its piety, became a symbol of Christ sacrificing himself for humanity and it was represented frequently in Christian art. Two erroneous beliefs about the pelican contributed to its association with Christ. The first of these was that the Pelican would pierce its chest with its beak and feed its chicks with its own blood to prevent them from starving in times of scarcity. Second, that if pelican chicks happen to die, the pelican would open its chest and bring them back to life, spraying them with its blood.

Divinity lessons give the girls the space and opportunity to look around, ask questions and touch the objects in the chapel. Experiential learning is balanced with the need to handle the contents of the chapel with care. The process can sound and look irreverent when excitement takes over.

Whenever I find myself doubting the value of the exercise, I rewatch a YouTube video of American physicist, Richard Feynman, explaining the difference between knowing the name of an object and understanding it. In the video, Feynman’s point is that simply knowing the name of something does not mean you understand it.

We often talk in fact-deficient generalities to cover our need for more understanding. To speak to each other, we must have words; it is vital that girls not only know the names of objects but also understand the meaning of the symbols.

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