Tomorrow night there will be speeches and accolades for the seniors who, along with their parents, will bask in the triumphs of graduation and college admission. I will have the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of my proteges on the yearbook staff, whose incessant telephone calls as crises created shadows over spring break caused me to develop a new appreciation for true Shabbos observance. 'WHEN IS IT GOING TO GET DARK?" I muttered as I answered yet another call, knowing that in a matter of hours no one would be permitted even to think about the yearbook for awhile.
Yesterday I asked a colleague to review the first draft of my remarks. "It's fine, she said, as she handed it back. "But what about the most important thing?" I asked. "Can you tell that I love them?"
I've been trying to think of a good story to illustrate the kind of relationships we have with students in such a small school, but I'm coming up dry. So I'm switching to poetry as I try to honor the bridge between their creative homage to the past in the form of their yearbook and the reality that the future is now upon them:
The Summer Day
(by Mary Oliver)
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?