I am writing today in the wake of the Hamas atrocities in Israel, and the unfolding crisis in the Middle East. For those of you in our community with connections to the people in the region, my heart goes out to you.
This is a time of great sorrow for so many. People I love – and maybe people you love – hurt in ways I can imagine but cannot truly know. Many of us have called, texted, and emailed friends, family, and colleagues and in response to their stories we listened, cried, prayed and wondered, “What else can I do?”
This week Alisa Barnard, the Assistant Head of School at Proctor, told her students that, “…community is a verb.” I share her comment with all of you both because I appreciated the reminder and believe it to be true as well. Sustainable community – one central hallmark of Chewonki’s mission statement – is active and requires ongoing work.
The building of a thriving sustainable community includes doing the work to overcome hate – as complicated and common as hate may be, That does not happen by ignoring circumstances that are challenging. Rather, it requires intentionally making space as a learning institution that when confronted with difficult matters, we would be willing to acknowledge what’s going on, and lean into deep and critical listening for understanding, for ways we can change, for ways we make a difference.
Chewonki and its partner institutions shared many resources between ourselves this week to initiate conversation and open space for listening and learning. Here are some of them for your consideration:
A partner school shared, “Our individual identities create the lenses through which we engage, and the various situations we might see as we try to get our needs met in this time. When it comes to having feelings about events and situations it is ok that some of us live in a place of certainty and some live in a place of questioning. When certainty and questioning find it difficult to occupy the same space with grace, our goal is to engage with grace.”
So, may it be with grace that we lean ever more into our mission: to deepen our own self understanding, our intention to be in relationship with one another, and to strive to be a positive presence to the world. May this continue to be the same work we encourage in our participants.
Perhaps that is one way we can help forge a world capable of change.
Rev. Nancy J. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Acting President, Chewonki