As I looked toward the beginning of this school year, I determined a solid personal goal for me to have would be to focus on getting out of my office. While seemingly a simple goal, it’s so easy for me to get trapped in my office, tending to the endless e-mails, voice mails, and meetings. Important work, no doubt, but not as important as being out, connecting, building relationships, listening, paying attention, engaging, learning, loving. “Get out of my office,” I thought and shared, because it’s out there where everything truly important is actually happening.
It’s nice to have your thinking validated, especially so quickly, but not so abruptly, not so painfully.
We spent an entire day with our staff before day one with our students discussing the launch of a new weekly class period focused on affective needs, having fun promoting the importance of team, getting rid of our barriers, promoting our goals, and laughing – Just laughing. We were promoting the truth that education without relationships at the front, at the center, and at the top of the priority list, is basically meaningless. Smiles were wide, and emotions were high.
Without giving precise details, this school year is off to an extremely difficult start. A high school aged former student (with a sibling still with us) lost his life due to tragic circumstances immediately before the school year began, a present student took his own life in a shocking manner immediately after the school year began, and a fractured relationship with a parent have all contributed to so many students and staff feeling shaken to the core, emotionally drained, and uncertain of their well-being.
Loss can break you. The ache that starts inside is one that sometimes never seems to fully go away. I can’t imagine losing one of my children. I know people can, because I know people have experienced it. But, I can imagine losing someone I love – too soon, too tragically, too awful to thoroughly comprehend. I do know that experience. I do know that ache. I do know it sometimes never seems to fully go away. And, yet, I do know it gets better.
We learn from loss. We learn from ache. It reminds us of our humanity, and guides us – sometimes harshly, sometimes gently – back toward one another. There are things in life that matter, and those things often involve work that needs to be done, learning that needs to happen, growth that has to be accomplished. But then there are things in life that actually make life what it is, its essence, its fullness, its wholeness. I learn more and more each day that while I will continue to strive to work hard, to learn, and to grow, those things aren’t what define me, and they aren’t what I hope for others. I am deeply loved, and if I can contribute even a momentary glimpse of that love toward and with others, I have truly left my office, and I am truly healing that ache.