On the second anniversary of closing school due to the news that the novel coronavirus had made its way to the Boston area.
Two years ago, today, we closed school. We thought we would be doing so for two short weeks, that we would ride out the storm and be back in no time.
Two years later, we stand on the precipice of a significant moment in our pandemic responsethe introduction of a mask-optional policy on Monday. Conversations on campus have turned to in-person assemblies and opening nights (break a leg, seventh and eighth graders!) as the warmth of spring and renewed life beckons.
For me, the second anniversary of the pandemic has become a critical reminder of the power of community and innovation. What happened when our school’s foundation, mission, and core values were challenged? We sought ways to stay connected even as the pandemic tested and strained the connective tissue critical to who we are. We responded the way I hoped and expected we would: with resilience, innovation, nimbleness, and care.
And now, as we look towards a future that affords us the chance to keep what we have learned and loved, move past those things that we no longer need, we can imagine, aspire to, and design for that ‘next normal’ we are hearing so much about. But to do that effectively, we must look inward one more time to investigate what we have learned about ourselves. How have we grown? When have we struggled? What do we need now, and how might we find it, get it, or build it?
Midway through the summer of 2021, I considered similar questions. Cases were down, and things were looking promising. During that time, a friend passed along a poem that I have turned to countless times since that helps to provide answers as the current phase of the pandemic wanes. The poem reminds me of all we have done together to see the school through. I hope it inspires you to consider how our community has been of use over these past two years and how we can step boldly into the future, knowing we are ready for whatever comes next.
To be of use
by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.