For those of us who feel most alive on the seasonal cusps, this is a wonderful time of the year. If you’re living in the northern hemisphere, the immediate promise of warmer weather, spring flowers and the lure of summer vacations are likely putting quite the step in your walk.
Those of us deeply immersed in active conversations about school change may be experiencing a bit of a seasonal disconnect. You may have attended one of the several Edcamp events held over the past couple of weekends. Perhaps you were part of a spring conference that left you excited to go back and engage in some innovative practice in your school or within your classroom. Maybe you recently joined an online discussion forum or started your own blog.
And despite your best efforts to renew your practice, enliven the discourse around renewal and engage others in what could definitely be called the Work of Spring, you may be discouraged by the attitudes of your colleagues, your friends and your family. Despite what you’ve heard, your enthusiasm may not be as contagious as you first imagined.
I’ve felt that way several times over the past few years. But you remember Parker Palmer don’t you? Parker Palmer who urged us to have the Courage to Teach? Parker Palmer who inspired us with stories of challenge, perseverance and relationship?
Here’s what Palmer has to say about Spring. From his Seasonal Essays:
I will wax romantic about spring and its splendors in a moment, but first there is a hard truth to be told: before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck. I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice. But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created.
I love the fact that the word “humus”– the decayed vegetable matter that feeds the roots of plants – comes from the same word root that gives rise to the word “humility.” It is a blessed etymology. It helps me understand that the humiliating events of life, the events that leave “mud on my face” or that “make my name mud,” may create the fertile soil in which something new can grow.
Though spring begins slowly and tentatively, it grows with a tenacity that never fails to touch me. The smallest and most tender shoots insist on having their way, coming up through ground that looked, only a few weeks earlier, as if it would never grow anything again. The crocuses and snowdrops do not bloom for long. But their mere appearance, however brief, is always a harbinger of hope, and from those small beginnings, hope grows at a geometric rate. The days get longer, the winds get warmer, and the world grows green again.
A message to my fellow Springtime Sojourners. Take heart. Believe in the seasonal rhythm that governs the planet. Breathe deeply and go play in the mud!