Monday, August 30, 2010

Keep a hand open

At school, we always begin our new year meetings (the faculty and staff) with time going around the circle for each person to say something about her summer. It used to be that this was free-form -- just a chance to share and catch up with your colleagues.

I forgot, as I was thinking the evening beforehand about what I'd say, that our new head of school puts parameters around it -- what inspired you to set a new personal goal this summer? what one highlight resonates in a way that will carry through as an inspiration of hope for the year? I'll simply say that I prefer the old way.

Anyway, there I was, listening to what colleagues had to say and not having a whiff of an idea what I'd say when it got to me.

Out of some deep place inside my consciousness, something like this came out:

We had a horrific start to our summer, after having had an awful year. Things just kept getting worse before they got better at all.

But what I realize about myself, about our family of three, is that we've come through all of these experiences having somehow found the way to be able to hold tragedy in one hand -- to be able to hold it, to be brave enough to open up our hand and look right at it, and to be able to find the way to process it so that we figure out what pieces of it we really do need to hold on to and what pieces of it we can finally let go of. And somehow, miraculously, we also discovered that at the same time in our other hand we can still hold joy. And we can celebrate and honor and hold on to that joy in a way that's much deeper and more meaningful for having that other hand of sorrow and grief. That, ultimately, the real tragedy is in allowing both hands to be filled with sorrow, and not leaving a hand open to joy.

For me, the wonder and delight of our summer is that we've had a summer that we can all look back on with a great deal of joy.
Always keep a hand open to joy.


Julie (acupofcoffee.....) said...

*Sniff, sniff*....thanks so much for sharing this wisdom, Jennifer. That's the second time in a week that you've deeply encouraged me. I really appreciate you...

Natalie said...

I love this... the message and insight. Always keep a hand open to joy... yes!
Thank you.

Lesley said...

Well, they do say that it's through pain that we get to wisdom. I'm hoping that the start of your new school year will complete the turn-around you managed so successfully through summer.
Much love to you, Jen.

orchidlover said...

What a wonderfully uplifting post. Thanks for sharing.
I hope the next year will bring you only joy

Love and hugs Gina xxx

Laura Jane said...

wise words Jennifer, as always.

Thanks for being so resilient, and for being open to the silver linings. As I was told once .... There is no darkness, there's only light.

Hugs, and a happy return to the school year for you both