Today’s journey is different from the others. In a survey sent to students earlier in the week, I asked them to tell me where they felt the happiest and where they felt the safest on campus. 28 students answered while 21 of them allowed me to share their answers.
On my way to the library in the twilight hour earlier this week, I passed a group of students outside the back of Rulon-Miller Dorm in the dark sitting in Adirondack chairs just chilling and chatting. They were senior boys getting their wings, deciding what evening study hall will now look like for them as they transition to Senior Projects, last rites of the school year, and what post-graduation might hold as they begin to chart their own courses.
The water churned along the walkway of the GulfQuest/National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico next to the Mobile River in Mobile, Alabama. Pockets along the river were filled with branches, leaves, and brackish detritus that pooled next to sea vessels that had been docked for what looked like more than a year.
When I first moved to Proctor and to Andover, the question I most often received from folks was, “Are you excited?” Pausing, I would drink the question in for a while, just to get my bearings each time and to see if anything had changed for me. Each time, after carefully thinking it through, I would say, “Not really.” Or, I’d say, “Excitement is not really the word.” Or, finally, “It just feels ‘right.’” I was not trying to be cagey or obtuse, but I was simply trying to honor the question and the questioner. I am also a stickler for precision. To be more precise takes careful and nuanced answers.
In the last two years, our country and our culture has been put to the test. Pushed to our limits, at least for some of us, it sometimes feels like “the center cannot hold.” Working with and holding hope for adults and teenagers through one of the rockiest periods in recent memory definitely has had its challenges. Even the most stalwart of folks strain to stay healthy while empathy, patience, and the ability to self-regulate too often feel in short supply.
Being in Northern New England at this time has been a revelation. For the one-hundred and thirty of us new to Proctor this year, the routines are still new, but thankfully not as much as they were in the fall when they were “shiny” new. As we head into winter, we find more of our rhythm in this second trimester. We ground ourselves to our obligations and the joys of our time together as a school community as we creep up on the longest evening of the year.
In Indigenous communities, strong medicine means that you are in the presence of something that morphs and changes the very core of who you are, or even a situation. For many indigenous communities, healing is in the land. It’s even in the rocks and air. Just about everything possesses some kind of medicine or teaching from which a person can learn. Powerful medicine transforms. It heals.