I did not plan to speak at our Community Meeting for Worship yesterday morning, especially after hearing some of our students' voices as they welcomed us and shared reflections on this year’s testimony of truth and its continuing revelation. We heard from one eighth grader who reminded us of the importance of the search for truth as our elected officials at the highest levels appear to lie to the public. And we heard from another, who related this year’s testimony to a powerful book he had just read, Animal Farm.
Yet I soon found myself appreciating the time and space that those assembled—students, parents, visiting friends, and members of the professional community—were creating and claiming together.
I remembered reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White to my daughter Kyle and loving it. Kyle named her first pet rat—the first of many—Templeton. I remembered, too, that when Templeton died, my wife Sue and I had wondered if she might need to stay home that morning. But we soon learned that Kyle (now a faculty member of Friends School of Wilmington in North Carolina) could not imagine being anywhere but school. It was her Friends School community that she trusted. And it was her Friends School community that held her sadness and love, just as it held her laughter and joy.
As we continue to confront so much political conflict, tragedy, and loss in the news and in our lives today, I am reminded of E.B. White again. This time, it is his words that I strive to remember and have come to cherish:
“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it?”
I felt especially grateful Wednesday morning to be in community with others holding that which is difficult, striving to do good in response, and claiming laughter and joy during our days at SFFS.
As my colleagues and I have done in the past, I would like to share a few compelling resources that I hope will help you and your family navigate the dissonance, violence, and trauma. I also encourage you to read a great recent story in The Atlantic about the power of school communities and about “a host of caring adults” that can frame and lead a path forward.
- Edutopia: ”Responding to Tragedy: Resources for Educators and Parents”
- Greater Good Magazine: “Nine Tips for Talking to Kids about Trauma”
- HealthyChildren.org: “Talking to Children About Tragedies & Other News Events”
- Common Sense Media: “Explaining the News to Our Kids”
- The Atlantic: “Returning to Class the Morning After a Massacre”