An Extra Smile...

Dear friends-

As you may know, the theme of our school this year is building, and our students have explored the meaning of that word from many different angles. They have jumped into the ideas of building structures, relationships, arguments, ideas, bridges, and trust. They have created a beautiful pinata encased in glowing silver cityscapes, built bridges from cans to help feed the hungry, and crafted massive spaceships to fly their imaginations to the moon and back.

This week, I am thinking of building in a different way. I envision any idea of building as essentially being a discussion about how separate entities work together to support each other. From the most basic of lean-to’s to Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, the central concept is the same: figure out how to make the materials of life - be it wood, iron, glass, or concrete - mesh together in a way in which they support each other in a productive and effective manner. The same is true in terms of building our emotional world. We use materials such as thoughts, feelings, inspirations, and concerns to help forge more meaningful lives. We build friendships, self-confidence, trust, and understanding in this way.

One of the wonders of working in a close-knit community is that you get to watch the ways in which people work to support each other to help create a more meaningful, loving, and fruitful experience together. As I wrote last week, the entire staff here spends a great deal of care and effort finding the best way to support each other professionally. Recently we have been paying attention to our lives outside of work as well, and realizing how much we rely on each other for support through the challenges of our personal lives. Like buildings, these supports can take on many forms: a simple encouraging note to coworkers, a flexible and giving approach to tasks, a warm tone of voice, an offer of assistance, taking the moment to listen instead of talk, an effort to be reliable and consistent. An extra smile. These things all build upon each other and help us stand tall and firm even when we are feeling weak and shaky.

As humans, we all give only glimpses of our full selves to others, no matter how close we are. What I admire so much about my co-workers at Randolph is that we have come to assume that the parts of ourselves and of our personal lives that we choose not to show at work might need support. We know that we all have things going on in our private lives that might cause us fear, stress, pain, or heartache. And so we have been taking on extra burdens, going extra distances, and taking special care in the faith that the support we give to each other is helping us build and create a place to work that truly feels like shelter and a home.

I look forward to checking in with you all after our spring break.

Be well,

Ben


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