Somehow Convocation seems long ago, though it was a mere two months or so ago. In my remarks on that beautiful day, I extolled the virtues of gentleness, bravery, and decency. On many occasions in school life since then, I have seen examples of these virtues, most often in the small ways that form the layers of a positive community. These minor occurrences can escape notice, but they should not. At Thanksgiving, let’s spend some time thinking about small ways people have been gentle and decent with us. Can we take that a step further and take the time over the holiday to think of one person who has shown you gentleness, and write a brief note to that person to thank them? That would truly show the spirit of Thanksgiving.
At the same time, our whole society has been under duress for a long period of time, and we are not immune to the ways accumulated anxiety and weariness can lead to impatience, hasty judgment, and even anger. When these sorts of outbursts occur, it can undermine that sense of positive community. I have read many articles recently about school employees – teachers and others – contemplating whether they wish to remain in their positions, and some of this discomfiture comes from interactions with students and parents that feel less than respectful, less than gentle and decent. Most of our experience is not like that, but if it happens enough it can be harmful to our whole community. I call all of us again to remember to assume best intentions, to ask questions before forming judgments, and to consider carefully the tone of interactions. If you do have concerns you need to discuss with someone at school, please remember to make an appointment and to proceed with patience and an openness to constructive dialogue.
As we take time to be thankful for the blessings we have received, even in a time of difficulty and strife, let’s cast that net widely. For several years now, I have included in my Thanksgiving message, a poem of Thanksgiving blessing that has become a tradition for me. I hope you enjoy it.
Thanks & blessings be
to the Sun & the Earth
for this bread & this wine,
this fruit, this meat, this salt,
thanks be & blessing to them
who prepare it, who serve it;
thanks & blessings to them
who share it
(& also the absent & the dead).
Thanks & Blessing to them who bring it
(may they not want),
to them who plant & tend it,
harvest & gather it
(may they not want);
thanks & blessing to them who work
& blessing to them who cannot;
may they not want - for their hunger
sours the wine & robs
the taste from the salt.
Thanks be for the sustenance & strength
for our dance & work of justice, of peace.
~ Rafael Jesus Gonzalez ~