Keeping It Whole

On Tuesday morning I was over at the Seed taking photos for our upcoming yearbook project.  Evidence of spring was everywhere.  Bill has been hard at work keeping weeds at bay, and the freshly mown grass looks incredibly healthy.  A few class gardens are bursting with produce, including kale, chard, and spinach.  Sunflowers are blooming at all different stages.  Some, like this cuddly teddy bear sunflower, are at their peak stage.  Other giant sunflowers are bowing forward, their heavy heads full of seeds for next year’s crop.  Two of the class gardens are full of brightly colored wildflowers.  There’s only one problem.  Nobody, except Bill, is there to enjoy it.  

Spring is the time of year when everything around the school comes to fruition.  Not only flowers and gardens, but the journey of each class and its individual students.  This year it’s unlikely there will be much of it left, if any, in which we can come together for a time of closure.  I’m sure we’ll figure out ways to do it virtually, but it won’t be the same.  This week I’ve been thinking of these things more, and I give myself time for the grieving that we are all experiencing in one way or another.  Mostly, though, I spend my days feeling gratitude for a safe home, our flourishing garden, time for creative and reflective processes, and for the school community itself.  This week has been full of profound reminders of how cherished and appreciated the Seed is. 

Like most other small businesses struggling to stay afloat, we’re exploring ways to cut costs, seek emergency funding, and at the same time, retain and compensate our staff.  Our board of directors is actively helping us navigate all of this.  On Sunday evening we met via Zoom to discuss our way forward.  At several points the idea of “keeping it whole” surfaced, in reference to staff compensation, and the school in general.  At all levels of the Seed’s operation, we are doing just that.  Teachers and assistants have jumped right into working with the kids in ways that, though distant, are keeping the connections whole.  Classes have been coming together and moving forward with work that keeps the children engaged.  Parents, too, have stepped up with generous financial support, donations, and kind messages.  Even several of our service providers are waiving their fees for awhile, to help out.

During the board meeting when “keeping it whole” was first spoken, a song from years past floated into my mind.  Written by cantor Linda Hirschhorn, “Circle Chant was first introduced to us by a young teacher from Maine who found her way to the Seed for a few years.  It’s a perfect song for these times:

Circle round for freedom,
Circle round for peace.
For all of us imprisoned,
Circle for release.

Circle for the planet,
Circle for each soul.
For the children of our children
Keep the circle whole.

—Linda Hirschhorn