Finding Meaning Amid the Chaos

Dear Parents,

Whew. Another week under our belt, and I hope this week you found more of a rhythm with remote learning. I’ve appreciated all of your kind emails, thoughts and prayers over the past few days. A recent highlight for me was participating in flag this week. There was a sense of routine, purpose and joy listening to the 6th graders share and then pray for one another—not to mention Mr. Monds singing to all of us! 

As encouragement, a friend sent me a link to Brené Brown’s podcast interview with David Kessler on Grief and Finding Meaning. I am familiar with Brené Brown and have read some of her research and watched segments of her talks, but until listening to the podcast, I had not heard of David Kessler. They spoke of the universal state of grief in the midst of the pandemic and how we are meant to navigate that grief. In the midst of their conversation, Kessler shared the parable of the long spoons, which has roots in many cultures and religious communities. The parable features a guest entering a dining room in which the diners are seated at a long banquet table. The table is adorned with beautiful food, but instead of typical utensils, the diners hold long spoons to feed themselves. The spoons are so long that they are unable to reach their mouths, and consequently, they are starving, hungry and gaunt. The guest then enters another dining room. The table is dressed with the same food and the same long spoons, but instead of the diners trying to feed themselves, they feed each other. As a result, they are supple and well-fed, and the dinner is a huge feast and celebration. The contrast between the two scenes is an allegory of hell and heaven. Hell is self-focused and nourishment just out of reach, and heaven is other-focused and a flourishing existence. In reflection on this present moment, Brown and Kessler talk about the need of long spoons to feed each other, to overcome our grief and to sustain our lives. 

I shared this section of the podcast with the faculty and staff on Wednesday, and I plan to share it for devotion at the board of trustees meeting tomorrow evening. For me, it has been a powerful image of community in the midst of social distancing and screen living, reaching with long spoons into each other’s lives to offer support, sustenance and encouragement. I don’t know about you, but I’ve met many neighbors on sidewalks and across fence lines over the past few weeks. I’ve also reconnected with a group of friends spread across the country for weekly video check-ins. After these moments with new and old friends, my hunger subsides and I feel fed. 

As we move into Holy Week, I pray that you and your family will notice many long-spoon moments. Let’s encourage our children to be a long spoon for our neighbors and friends. We need to feed each other and allow others to feed us. In Holy Week, we are reminded that these small moments are a foretaste, a promise of what is to come. 

Much love and peace to you and your families. 

With gratitude,

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