Today was the last day of school and we said goodbye to three kids I have come to care a lot about. We did it in a moving ritual with the entire school in attendance. First, all the other kids and the teachers create a tunnel for our school leavers to walk through from the front door of the school to a little pavilion in the yard. Once there, the graduates are shown a poster full of pictures of themselves over their years in the school and then they press their hand prints in bright colors onto the poster and sign their names. They quietly talk and joke about the memories the pictures evoke as they are doing it. They know by now that this poster will be framed and hung up in the school for posterity. All of the other kids - even the small ones with nervous energy and short attention spans - watch them quietly in a sort of wonder. Many try to maneuver their way to a good spot for viewing, but gently, without the usual pushing and shoving. All of the kids know “One day that will be me.” Everyone feels that the moment is special.
Despite my heathenism, I totally get the point of rituals. I like it when events come full circle. Ends meet beginnings and are neatly tied up. You can say ”so . . . that happened. I wonder where I will go from here?” And then you can start enjoying the new beginning.
After the farewell ceremony, the last school day came to a close and parents started showing up to collect their kids. Many short conversations ensued, thanks were expressed, gifts were given . . . A lot of the parents made some comment to the effect of ”So now you can get a break too!” I gently reminded them that we teachers have a full week of work ahead of us and then added cheerily, “But I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel!”
In the evening, when I returned to my own personal ritual of sitting in the library and writing about my thoughts and the day, I realized that it is July 3rd. Exactly six months to the day from my very first blog entry - the one whose title was a play on the words “light at the end of the tunnel”. It seems another circle is complete. So . . . that happened. Where will I go from here?