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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Behold, the Book of Names.

We pause for a moment and consider the retiring of the Book of Names. This book was brought forth the first week of August 2008 when the Book of Names for 2007 was retired. For 360 days it sat under my desk lamp at the Space Center. On its pages are listed all the private missions and camps run through the last year (August 2008 - July 2009).

Did you book a private mission last year? If so, then your name and phone number is in the Book of Names. Did you attend an Overnight, Edventure or Super Saturday Camp during the last year? Then that camp was listed in the Book of Names. Did you bring your class on a field trip? Then you may be listed in the Book of Names (we have a special page for out of control classes and teachers that sit on their backsides during their field trips and do nothing to keep their students in line).

Flight Directors consult the Book of Names daily for their work schedule. I check it daily as I review the staff and volunteer schedule. It’s pages are written and spilled on. If its been one of those days, you may even see a few tear stains here and there.

We retire the Book of Names in solemn ceremony the last day of July. I dim the office lights. The Set Directors gather in robes bearing torches. I chant something in Latin. It’s amazing what you find on the internet. One year, after my rather lengthy chant all the lights when out and the room grew bone chilly. Voices were heard under or feet, emanating from the school’s cellar. Megan screamed. That started a chain reaction of screaming - ending only when I joined in and blasted them all out of the water. A few days later I doubled checked my Latin source and found my error. I took the ceremony's verses from the Catholic Book on Exorcism. This year I’m using verses from the Prayer Book of 1534, just to be safe.

After the verses, the Book of Names is passed from Flight Director to Flight Director. Each is given a moment alone with the one object that ruled their lives so completely for one year. I stand at the end of the circle and accept the book from the last FD. I walk to my desk, open the drawer nearest my chair and carefully slide the book into its place beside all the other Book of Names from years passed.

The ceremony ends when I pull the new Book of Names from the same desk drawer. I hold the new book up over my head and show the congregation its unblemished pages. Everyone bows three times as I place the book in its proper place under the lamp.

It is a solemn occasion that marks the end of one season and the start of another. It is a time to remember that life goes on at the Space Center. There are missions to fly and campers to tend. There are messes to clean and noses to wipe. There are fears to console and tempers to dampen. There are egos to tame and screams to subdue. It is our work cycle.

Welcome Book of Names for 2010. May your pages bring us happiness and joy.

Mr. Williamson
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