Last week I shared a “morning message” on Friday. This week I am sharing another brief reflection. This message is not explicitly school business, but an acknowledgment that education is about considered thought and that these days solicit our attention.
I would like to invite the rest of the community into this practice as well. If you are receiving this message, this invitation is extended to you: students, parents and extended family, faculty, donors, board members, FE partners, and other friends. We will share some of your submissions by email, social media, or other means throughout the week ahead. And Friday I will be in touch again with a new theme, as well as some thoughts of my own.
Submit by replying to [email protected]
This week’s theme:
What does it mean to have time?
What is an historical moment, and how should we mark it?
How does one live in the present, remember the past, or anticipate the future?
(Do not be constrained by my prompts.)
Share a paragraph or three
a haiku or other poem
a song you love or have written
a visual art piece
some other representation of thought
Students, if you compose or create something of your own, reflective of some effort or consideration, you may earn civic engagement credit.
I keep reading about all the time I must have, as if during the present stay-at-home order the length of days has been extended and obligations significantly reduced. Maybe new uncertainties keep me up at night. Is that where the time comes from? I no longer commute to work, so my extra hour each day is time to learn a new instrument, master a language, correspond with friends and acquaintances past, or watch Tiger King, Lost in Space, or a Ken Burns documentary series. We have focused our attention on the things that matter: relationships, necessities of life, meaning making activities. Does the rest of the noise simply fade, leaving only time?
My experience of the last weeks is that time fills reliably to overcrowding. For me, work has continued. Most of the old obligations remain. Now there are fresh opportunities to seize, as well. Work and family are sharing space, sharing time. My faculty tell me that the breakfast table is now a classroom. Every day is Sunday; so is every day Monday. I feel busy.
Still, the voices are not wrong. Somehow there is indeed more time. More time with my children. More time to express care. More time to imagine what comes next. It feels to me, as perhaps this message and the series to which it contributes testify, that the present is a time for indulging in the considered thinking that school work recommends. We are busy yet leisurely. Somehow leisure has become business.
Can there be a return to the old rhythms, or does this moment insist that we create new ones that will last with us as we emerge?
A poem by Sikh poet Valerie Kaur:
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
In our tears and agony, we hold our children close and confront the truth: The future is dark.
But my faith dares me to ask:
What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?
What if our America is not dead but a country still waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor?
What if all the mothers who came before us, who survived genocide and occupation, slavery and Jim Crow, racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia, political oppression and sexual assault, are standing behind us now, whispering in our ear: You are brave? What if this is our Great Contraction before we birth a new future?
Remember the wisdom of the midwife: “Breathe,” she says. Then: “Push.”
Now it is time to breathe. But soon it will be time to push; soon it will be time to fight — for those we love — Muslim father, Sikh son, trans daughter, indigenous brother, immigrant sister, white worker, the poor and forgotten, and the ones who cast their vote out of resentment and fear.
Let us make an oath to fight for the soul of America — “The land that never has been yet— And yet must be” (Langston Hughes) — with Revolutionary Love and relentless optimism. And so I pray this Sikh prayer:
Nanak Naam Chardi Kala,
Tere Bane Sarbat Da Bhalla
“In the name of the Divine within us and around us, we find everlasting optimism.
Within your will, may there be grace for all of humanity.”
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Head of School