Yesterday, we spent a few hours at the Oregon Garden. It is a beautiful place and the perfect set-up for COVID friendly gathering (outside, few people, 80+ acres, etc.). Normally, there is an entrance fee. Because of the damage to the Garden sustained during the ice storm in February, the entrance fee is waived and entrants are asked to consider leaving a donation.
As we left the entrance, we expected to see downed trees and debris everywhere. Instead, we saw beautiful plants in full bloom, trees with a slight lean to their trunks, pathways clear for patrons, and all that we have come to expect from the Oregon Garden. Yes, a few paths had been marked “no entry”, but what we saw was Spring in all its glory. We even saw a group of rather large garter snakes in the midst of their spring rituals. (These may have been the largest garter snakes I have ever seen!).
I know the ice storm was terribly destructive. I know the clean up continues and the devastation was more than we were prepared to bear. However, I was not greeted with sadness on this occasion. I saw life and growth and continuation yesterday. It was uplifting and what I needed.
Upon leaving, we stopped to talk to the gentleman at the visitor center. My mom expressed her surprise that what we saw was not nearly as devastating as she had imagined it to be. He reminded us that was because we see what is here today, yet he sees what it used to be. He has the comparison and knows the loss.
I have been thinking about this interaction and how much it applies to all of right now. How many of us are seeing education through the lens of what has been lost, and how many of us see what is blooming? Can we view the current landscape of the classroom without the lens of the past? If we did, what would draw our attention?
I have heard and read so much this year about learning loss due to the pandemic. I have heard and read about the other side too – the learning that has been gained in completely new contexts. I want to view today with the lens of growth. I want to forget about what was “supposed to” happen and instead live in this moment of what is happening. My students are learning. My own children are learning. We are growing. My teaching is changing for the better. I am exhausted because I am working and that work is worthwhile.
You are working and growing and worthwhile, too. Live in this moment and allow the sunshine to brighten your lens. Let go of the shadow of the past and what used to be. This is the time and we are here.