Saying Goodbye and Reinventing Hello

“…Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who made the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories. ” Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Up Early

Back in 1918, after WWI, there was a global pandemic. The world was turned upside down. Back in 1929 a Great Depression began. The world was turned upside down. Back in the 1930’s there were families and children in concentration camps. The world was turned upside down. During that same time fascism, nationalism, and hate spread across Europe. The world was turned upside down. Back in the 1960’s there was a Civil Rights Movement that responded to the centuries of hatred and racism. The world was turned upside down.

Today, we have a convergence of all those overwhelming events occurring at the same time over a backdrop of climate catastrophe. Do we wonder why we are struggling so?

During all this. All this overwhelming…ness, we continue to live our complicated lives. Trying to do good. Be good. But it’s hard. Because any one of the events we are living though would be enough to side track us and put us in a spin. So of course we struggle.

My husband and I are leaving our home. Twenty plus years of memories and the thought of missing the maple tree that has provided shade for us cause me to be sad. Yet I know it is time. A similar feeling occurred when I retired. It was time then too. Leaving something you love is never easy. And the notion that leaving our home and my job is my choice, doesn’t pass me by.

Schools across the country are talking about opening up. Not because we should but because we are being threatened by our own government. Like everything else in the past three years designed to divide us and enrich the wealthy even more, this is too. A friend of mine, and one of the most gifted teachers I know, wrote to tell me she thinks she’s done. I understand. I remember the very moment when I knew I was “done”.

What I see happening is our society’s tightening grasp on the notion of schools and life staying the way it use to be. That I think is natural. It’s what we know. But we aren’t going back to how it use to be. Not safely. This is where the art piece, The Flower Seller, and the poem, Why I Wake Up Early, stand out to me. With harvests come a sense of closure. And with closure comes a mixture of sadness for what was and an excitement for the beauty of what is and what can be. Like the birth of a new day providing us daily opportunities to reflect, start new and fresh, and redesign how we want to live. That is the opportunity we have before us. To redesign society to be better. Inclusive. Equal. Patient. Gentle. Kind. It is time to reinvent them. Let us not waste this opportunity.

So as Mary Oliver again asks us:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Please grieve what we have lost but be open to new possibilities. And always, be gentle with yourself as you work for the new.

Much love, Mary

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