Holidays in the heart

Yesterday was Holiday! Sort of. Well, not here in Munich of course because here holidays are always a 'Departure Delayed' - Bavaria is always the last state in Germany to close their school gates and declare 'Time Out'. Yet somehow, although life continued in the same old way, people were patiently awaiting their turn at summer's beginning and the school holidays. The feeling of imminent freedom was palpable.

Yesterday I was invited to sing with 30 children learning to speak English in a Realschule (middle-school). By 11am, when our class started, the day was already hot enough to produce a light sweat. Although it would be the last lesson of the day for this group of 11-year olds, since they had been studying since 7.45 am. When I asked them if they had been out to play in the sun today, there was an unexpected collective cheer, as in their eagerness to breathe fresh air again, they mistook my question for an invitation, and shouted "Yes!". It was easy to see their disappointment when they realised the misunderstanding. It was plain to see that they were not just ready for a playtime break, but for a real break, a summer break. To them it did not matter that this was Monday morning and not Friday afternoon. They looked like they had been to bed with the last throes of yesterday's sunlight - and isn't that around 10 in the evening these days? Whatever the case may be, it was clear these children had had enough.

Of course I knew just how they felt. Who wouldn't?! But still it was a joy to watch their glum faces turn from mild curiosity to hope, as they caught onto my grand idea of bringing the sunshine they longed for into the classroom. Their readiness to cheer again made my task easy, as with mouths open from head to toe the children sang their lungs out, happily shouting the refrain of 'Black Socks'.

One day on, Ive now discovered that the same class of children were given an English test earlier this morning. It didn't matter that they weren't prepared because yesterday they were on holiday with "Frau Melody" - today was business as usual. I heard that when they were asked how they enjoyed the singing, in unison they raised their eyebrows and in polite agreement said "good." And though it might not be so obvious from this reserved response I also heard that something of yesterday's holiday spirit had stuck. For when the teacher started to hand out their homework, it was as though the Liberty Bell itself rang out as, without warning, the whole class threw back their heads, opened their mouths and shouted in unison, "NOT YET! NOT YET!" - the 'Black Socks' refrain.

Now, as I sit on the train pulling into Munich's Central Station - I have this thought, 'Could bringing the sunshine into our lives be just an option?' What would happen if, instead of waiting for our freedom to be granted, we just start singing. Would Munich start to dance?

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