It’s hard to think of wanting to be disturbed. It’s been a tough summer. We’ve been scarred by horrific acts of violence followed by divisive debates about guns, racism, flags, law enforcement, justice, and hate. We have suffered drought, storms, and forest fires. And let’s not forget the presidential campaign! Isn’t life disturbing enough?
As students return to school, some or all of the summer’s events will be on their minds. So the question is not whether we are disturbed, but what to do about it. Shall we turn our faces away and retreat into business as usual? Or shall we engage the world as it is, open our minds, deepen our understanding, and decide what might be required to do better, and help our students and parents develop the courage to do the same?
Thankfully, we are schools! And education is all about leading out. Once led out, as from Eden, we see that our human condition is both beautiful and horrible, that knowledge is elusive and complex, and that understanding requires us to be vulnerable, brave, and uncomfortable. Even disturbed.
It can be easy to focus on business as usual. But our students are hoping for something more. There is a poem attributed to Sir Francis Drake that I keep handy on my desktop. It reads in part:
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
May this school year be one of brave adventuring.