Gratitude has been a core foundational value of mine for decades. I have actively practiced and taught gratitude for years, but it has become really hard to manifest at times over the past nine months of living through the global pandemic of COVID-19. Our current realities have impacted so many simple and complex pleasures: the rejuvenation and connection of a hug or high five, the reassurance of travel to get to ailing family and friends, the daily recreation of our community coming together at Morning Meeting. The loss of these foundational realities alongside so much worry and uncertainty has frequently challenged my gratitude practice.
Bringing our students back to campus for nine weeks of hybrid learning, after 6.5 months of being remote, has made my gratitude cup overflow. I actively celebrated and cherished every day that our students were in community with us and was so uplifted by the sounds of their laughter, the sight of them learning under the Cottonwoods, and middle schoolers at my door each day for candy visits. I am deeply grateful for our staffulty who have worked through anxiety and exhaustion in adapting to completely different and very challenging new ways of teaching and learning. They continue to creatively manifest our philosophy of Challenging Education and meaningfully connect with their students. I am also grateful to our families who have trusted us with countless hard decisions and unexpected pivots.
A few weeks ago, beginning to emotionally brace for our planned shift back to remote teaching and learning, I recommitted to the practice of a nightly entry in my gratitude journal. I realized it was time to start building up my gratitude "muscle memory" again, recognizing that a quiet campus and the dark months of winter will make gratitude something that once again needs to be actively cultivated. As a gift to yourself, I encourage you to think about creating a similar practice. The proven benefits of gratitude are numerous, and ending each day with reflection helps me frame things in a more productive and positive way.
While I know this holiday season will be challenging for many of us—disconnected from friends and family, unable to travel, and concerned about so many big problems in our world—I hope that you can find moments of joy, rejuvenation, and gratitude. My annual gift to each of you at this time of year is George Winston’s hauntingly beautiful music of “Thanksgiving.” I hope you can take a moment to listen to it as you settle in these next few days.
With deep gratitude for being a part of our beloved Bosque community, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday.