Saturday, March 6, 2021

SOL21 Slice 6: Near the end


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

I'm on the sidelines, watching my former school transition back to 'in-school' learning. I was retired by the school this past spring (they were unable to create a part-time position for me due to COVID) and, recently, I accepted a position on the school's Board of Directors. Like I said, I'm on the sidelines, watching.

What a painful time for school communities!  

I am reminded of the beautiful puzzle that I dropped a cup of tea on the other day - 
what we once knew, 
all the ways we fit together so well, 
the symmetry, precision, and beauty,
has been destroyed.

We are picking up the pieces.

I am reminded of how grief often 'works,' how we keep strong through the painful, stressful transitions in life, we do our very best, put on our 'game faces,' get through it with courage, adrenaline, fortitude, and then as it's ending, that's when we fall apart, that's when we release.Yes, at the end, we break, we allow ourselves to break, let our tears flow, we begin to recognize the enormity of what we have actually just experienced; this is how we begin to heal. 

I think with the COVID pandemic, communities are finally beginning to see the end, and the release of all our pain begins. The community is releasing, each and every one with their individual pain. This is not going to be easy.

We are near the end.
Near the end.
Near the end.

But we are not AT the end.

So many different people,
so many different agendas,
the reality of a broken school, broken community, broken nation, broken world,
tired, frazzled, done
come, let us reason together, 
with our short fuses,
empty patience,
depleted energy,
varied needs,
overflowing fear,
overwhelming exhaustion,
all of us seeking some semblance of control. 

How might we find the space to hold so many opposing positions in tension for a bit, to hold and not act, to listen to one another? How do we entertain these NEEDS WANTS DEMANDS CONVICTIONS ABSOLUTES when they are inherently contrary, gray, confusing, varied? How do we do all this in an ever-changing environment?

How might we do all this with a spirit of trust, healing, and goodwill towards one another, building back the school we know and love?

The pandemic may be ending, but the hard work is just beginning.

"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it."
- Lena Horne


  1. Maureen, once again you capture complexity so beautifully. There is so much broken that sometimes, all we can do is look at all of the pieces around us, scattered and intermingled with one another's, and realize that yes. Our work is JUST beginning. I've thought a lot about my colleagues who have retired (either by timing or by choice) just recently, and what they make of the happenings in school. It's got to be both a relief AND intensely tough to watch. Glad that you are still able to have some role.

    1. Thank you, Lainie. It has been hard for all of us for so long, and honestly, the real work lies ahead - putting it all back together.

  2. Maureen, wow. You have me feeling all philosophical about something I hadn't given much thought to before. I guess I was just thinking when it's over, it will be over. But we are going to have to rethink so many things. I'm so glad you are on the Board of Directors of your school. Your wisdom will surely be valued!

    1. I feel strangely useless and peripheral in this new role; I don't know what to do! That's why I wrote about it, I guess. Teaching is so hands on - even if you don't know exactly what to do, there is ALWAYS something that needs doing.

  3. I needed to read exactly this today, and I think you're tag/invitation in the TWO WRITING TEACHERS #SOL sent me to the perfect spot. What a lovely, peace-engendering perspective. "How do we entertain these NEEDS WANTS DEMANDS CONVICTIONS ABSOLUTES when they are inherently contrary, gray, confusing, varied? How do we do all this in an ever-changing environment?" Clarifying and dizzying both. Thanks so much.

    1. Thank you! It is an extraordinarily difficult time.

  4. I think this transitioning will look different for each school. I suspect you g children will find it easier than older students who have the added sense of loss from mussed homecomings and proms and traditional graduations. I suspect different staffs will have the same struggles. I know my firmer colleagues who taught English don’t want to return to the old normal. I suspect they’ll be disappointed. Rather than the pandemic offering proof of science, those who began from a position of anti-science have dug in deeper. I love the puzzle metaphor. Some have puzzle pieces still in tact, while others must repair the pieces before even thinking about how they fit into the big picture. None of this will be easy.

    1. Absolutely, it is not easy. Isn't it sad that "those who began from a position of anti-science have dug in deeper."