30 Apr Message from the Head of School April 26
Sue Monk Kidd wrote some of my favorite novels, but she also wrote a spiritual memoir entitledWhen the Heart Waits in which she wrote, “It’s so like us to deny things until some jolting moment – something we call an “eye-opening” experience – comes along and sharpens our vision.” I feel certain that this time of COVID-19 is one of those “jolting moments” that has the potential to sharpen our vision. My vision has been sharpened about many things during this time – about connection with others, about loneliness, and about moving into our next normal. From my vantage point, at home on my couch, I think one of the most remarkable phenomena of this time is the light that our quarantine has shown on our relationships. With our easy friendships on hold, our immediate family up-close-and-personal 24/7, and our colleagues never more than a Zoom call away – we are experiencing relationship in a different way. As is my nature, all this got me wondering about what God is doing in our community.
Shortly before this virus hit, I gave a talk for parents entitled, “Parenting is not a Competitive Sport.” The focus was on our sometimes blind and visceral drive to be sure our children are not missing any opportunities that other children might be having. The nature of bringing up children in such a high-achieving, competitive, and success-focused culture as Nashville makes us feel we have to stay on our toes to ensure our children are not missing out. But now that there are no such opportunities, no team sports, no sensational birthday parties; our level of FOMO has drastically been reduced. This phenomenon won’t last, of course, but now that we’ve tasted the slower pace and the increased time with our children, will we go back to the way life was before?
Many parents tell me that the most beautiful moments of quarantine have taken place with their spouses and children. The time with your children cannot have been without conflict or frustration, yet you’ve been able to witness the growth and the learning and the moments of discovery that often happen at school. I hope you will continue to have no-agenda times with your children, tech-free and preferably outside, when the only goal is to enjoy each other. There is simply no better way to connect with a child than to join them in their world for a little while. This quarantine has allowed these moments. It begs the question: will we go back?
More to the point, this time of quarantine has brought clarity about the relationships that are most important to us. These are the people who have helped us in our need or we’ve helped them in theirs. These are the people with whom we lose ourselves in conversation. These are people we are connected to and with whom we will be connected in our next normal. In “normal life” we have so little time, between the chauffeuring and the working and the commitments and the opportunities, we don’t pause for long phone conversations or meeting for coffee or to maintain an abiding friendship. Are we prepared to go back to this?
Our individual relationships with God require time to pursue as well. Ours is not a good-luck-charm, genie-in-a-bottle kind of god who exists to grant our every wish. Ours is a God who abides, who stays, who is fully present with us and who invites us to be fully present with Him. It is when we are open and in a posture of hopeful expectation that God reveals the secrets of His kingdom and the exquisite nature of His abiding love. This is a relationship worth pursuing, worth prioritizing above all others. Maybe you, like me, have had more of this time with the Lord during our quarantine. And perhaps your vision has been sharpened for what life might be like if we don’t go back.
Looking forward with you,