A New Year of Hope: Let the Light In

Posted by Scott Allenby

01/03/2021

One of the challenges of working in school communications is the inability to disconnect from the world of social media. There is always something to post, someone to follow, a comment to which we must reply, and, inevitably, comparisons to others to be made. We know the perils of social media and the damage it can do in the lives of children, and recognize we can fall victim to these dangers as adults as well. 

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Yet sometimes, especially during this time of prolonged physical separation, these virtual connections inspire and motivate us. On New Year’s morning, science faculty Heide Johnson shared the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s Anthem to her Facebook page with a profound New Year’s message. I have sat with Heide’s words over the past few days, ruminating on  their application to our lives as educators, and felt the need to share through this medium as well. Thank you, Heide, for the inspiration. 

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Cohen, the late Canadian born poet/songwriter, wrote the words below nearly thirty years ago, during a tumultuous time globally as the Berlin wall fell, the Gulf War was beginning, and there was much to fear. And, yet, as is the case with so many great lyrics, his message is one that feels directly applicable to our world today. It is a message of hope, one that encourages us to focus on the good that surrounds us, that lives in us. 

Proctor Academy Boarding Prep School New EnglandProctor Academy Boarding Prep School New England

We know that the turning of the calendar to 2021 will not eliminate the pain, suffering, worry, or illness that surrounds us. It will not miraculously heal the division, or patch the discord. It will not abdicate us of responsibility, or wash clean our shortcomings or personal struggles of 2020. But as we step into this new year, one that we believe will be filled with hope, with a light at the end of this long, long Covid-tunnel, we must, in one motion, acknowledge that which is behind us while reaching to take hold of that which is ahead of us. We must, as Cohen writes, “Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in.” 

Proctor Academy Boarding Prep School New EnglandProctor Academy Boarding Prep School New England

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that there is always room for hope. Always. May we work hard each day to put aside our striving for perfection, and to simply find ways to let light into our students’ and each other’s lives. 

Anthem by Leonard Cohen 

The birds they sang

At the break of day 

Start again 

I heard them say 

Don't dwell on what has passed away 

Or what is yet to be

Ah, the wars they will be fought again

The holy dove, she will be caught again

Bought and sold, and bought again

The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in

We asked for signs

The signs were sent

The birth betrayed

The marriage spent

Yeah, and the widowhood

Of every government

Signs for all to see

I can't run no more

With that lawless crowd

While the killers in high places

Say their prayers out loud

But they've summoned, they've summoned up

A thundercloud

They're going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in

You can add up the parts

But you won't have the sum

You can strike up the march

There is no drum

Every heart, every heart

To love will come

But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in

That's how the light gets in

That's how the light gets in

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