Reading the Wind

It’s that time of year when everything at school winds down.  Teachers are writing progress reports and making awards.  Ceremonies of completion and graduation are being planned.  Teachers are organizing students’ materials to take home as a record of the past ten months.  The one big difference this year is that none of the festivities will happen on the Seed campus.   Awards ceremonies will be held on Zoom, our lifeline to students since mid-March.  Parents will show up at the school on June 4 and 5, in alphabetical order, to pick up their students’ belongings. Normally in the two days following awards and graduation, teachers rapidly shift gears to prepare for our summer camp.  In the blink of an eye we start again, immersing our summer students with six weeks of quintessential Seed experiences.  

This year the only thing certain is that nearly everything about our lives is in a state of uncertainty.  We are daily consulting with advisors, following local and national news, and trying to make sense of the CDC’s latest guidelines.  Danielle and I are engaged in an ongoing conversation that started in March, and will no doubt continue for quite some time.  We listen, process, and explore possibilities, hoping that somehow we’ll find the discernment to craft a way forward.

Our current state of disequilibrium reminds me of something else I often think about this time of year (that likely won’t occur any time soon)—my annual week on the lake in Minnesota.   The lake inspires thoughts about sailing and how it’s been my metaphor for navigating uncertainty most of my life.   As a sailor, I was always on the lookout for sudden shifts in the wind that could either make the boat smoothly pick up speed, or tip over in a nano-second.  Over time I learned to read the wind, to observe how it moved across the water and met the sail as we traversed the lake.  An important lesson of sailing was that it’s impossible to sail directly into the wind.  To arrive at a destination where the wind is coming from, it’s necessary to follow a zig-zag course.  

As we navigate our way through the COVID-19 situation, doing our absolute best to make the right decisions with children, parents, and staff in mind, I find myself relying on the lessons of sailing.  We are constantly reading the winds of changing information coming forth about this pandemic, adjusting the course of our Seed boat with the destination of safely re-opening in mind.  We have a plan, and it’s a fluid one, knowing that we have to stay flexible in case something unexpected arises.  In the words of Maya Angelo: “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”