Teach me, but stay close by

I was giving a presentation today, on the second of two “dead days”, which is the space in between the end of the semester and the beginning of exam period. I have been running non-stop for the past few days especially, with all good things but also just too many things. A running joke during the meeting as we changed speakers was the tech trouble; we were always having the same trouble and the assistant kept coming up from the back of the room to come to our aid. It had happened to the two speakers before me, and as he was making his second trip to the podium during my presentation I said “can you teach me?” (he showed me quickly what I was doing wrong) and then as he walked away I said “but also can you stay close by?”

And I realized this is a metaphor for a lot: parenting, teaching, some of the community work I am doing. And I named that out loud, in the moment.

Tomorrow is the last day I will see “my” seniors in the collective sense. We have an exam period (we will be doing presentations) and then we will be doing celebrations: pizza, ice cream, pictures, and more. It is a tradition in our department that we have a senior send off right after the Capstone exam session, where all the faculty and our staff come and join. The next time we see them in a big group is on graduation day.

This group has had a twisty journey. They had a “normal” freshman year, their sophomore spring semester was interrupted by COVID, junior year was spent very hybrid for some and fully online for others; senior year has been a little more normal, but since it was mostly masked and with a couple of short periods online, even it has not been ideal for them.

I love these people. Obviously there are some I know better than others, but individually and collectively they have so much strength. I am excited to see what they bring to the future, the good work they will do in the world, and the ways they will live into their calling.

At the end of our presentations and before pizza (a critical moment, ha ha), I will be sharing this poem with them: Everything is Waiting For You (by David Whyte). https://onbeing.org/poetry/everything-is-waiting-for-you/

And I will remind them that while I won’t be their teacher anymore, I will always be close by.

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