Gathering ‘Round

I awoke to Ireland yesterday morning.  Although I wanted to sleep longer, I made myself get up, even though it was still dark.  It was raining and night had not yet turned to day.  Eventually I headed out for my morning walk, warm and mostly dry in the raincoat I bought last summer for our Ireland trip.  It felt good to be wearing it again.  When daylight appeared, I saw the low clouds hovering around South Mountain.  The mist-covered mountain carried me back to our days in Connemara in the West of Ireland.  I had so looked forward to experiencing the beauty of the mountain landscapes there that I’d seen in photographs.  For most of our time there, the mountains were shrouded in fog.  It rained and rained.  Walking yesterday morning, I thought about concealment, about how sometimes when one thing is hidden, another thing is revealed.  When I couldn’t see the mist-enshrouded mountains of Connemara, it allowed me to more fully experience the beauty of people, plants and landscapes in front of me.

While giving a tour to prospective families on Wednesday, I noticed several quail on the playground.  Then more appeared.  One seemed to be an instigator and others followed.  They scurried about, eventually congregating on the toddler yard.  There may have been around thirty all together.  I’d never seen that many all at the same time and I have no idea what they were doing.  Later that day, as we finalized our coverage plan to allow one of our teachers an extended leave to attend to family matters, I remembered the quail assemblage.  I thought of our staff gathering ‘round as a community to care for  one of our own.  I saw generosity, support and compassion.  As parents learned of the situation, the kindness spread.

It goes without saying that we’ve had our share of changes, especially given that we started the year with all returning staff.  This whole week I’ve struggled with how all these changes will be perceived.  Somehow, though, around the time the quail gathered, my thinking shifted.  I decided I could choose to look at it from a fear-based lens, or view it as an opportunity to demonstrate how much we value and support each other.  It’s a chance to model for the greater community how to respond in a heartfelt way to the changes and needs of the people who matter to us.  In the last several months as we’ve moved from one transition to the next, I’ve wondered many times why so much concentrated change has occurred in such a small school in a short period of time.  The answer has always been concealed.  This week an answer was at least partially revealed:  Life happens.  We can choose to resist what comes along or we can respond with grace.  I choose grace.  We choose grace.