Teach & Serve
No. 21 * January 6, 2016
Related Content from And There Came A Day:
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light
If you’re not reading my good friend Sean Gaillard’s terrific blog Principal Liner Notes: Education Reflections, you are missing out. Do yourself a favor. Add it to your reading list. Today
In his New Year’s offering, Sean adapted the “one word for a new year” philosophy to something new and different. Sean writes
In the last couple of years, many have adopted the One Word approach to greeting the New Year. This is based upon One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. (Mr. Page is not to be confused with the Led Zeppelin guitarist.). The premise is to choose a word that will sustain and inspire you throughout the year. I learned about it last year. My hope was to reach a moment of clarity on a cosmic word for 2015.
Now, I am not sure if he adhered to cosmic word or not last year – he says he did not – but this year he decided to settle on a cosmic song to help define his 2016. What a terrific idea! I figured I would steal from this best for this first Teach & Serve of 2016.
I love music. I’ve been in garage bands, cover bands, liturgical music groups and played solo at coffee house gathers on and off (mainly off of late) for the past 30 years. I am not a terrific guitar player but (and there is a future blog post in this thought somewhere) I know that I am good enough to be the number 2 or number 3 player in a group. Strictly rhythm and strictly out of the spotlight, my playing gives me great joy when the band is in a groove, making good music and having fun.
As I discussed 2016 with my wife and children and we talked about what we want for the new year as professionals (my wife is a highly accomplished teacher) and as students (all three kids have high academic goals) I considered what I wanted for this year. I considered where I am, where I want to be and how I can get there and a word hit me: passion. The concept of passion is going to be central to me this year – passion for my wife and kids, passion for my work, passion in my life.
In thinking about #onesong for the year, specifically in my life as an educational professional, that idea of passion resonated and I began to think about the artists I love who seem driven and passionate themselves. I am the first to admit that me musical tastes are not vast but what I miss in diversity, I make up for in loyalty. Looking through my playlists and my iTunes library, the singer I think is the most passionate kept coming to mind: Bruce Springsteen.
I knew my #onesong was going to be one of his and began to consider which tune it would be.
It didn’t take me long.
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Yeah. That’s the spirit. That’s what I need and want my 2016 to exemplify. An upwards trajectory. A positive outlook. A community. A shared goal.
Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising is from his album of the same name and we most associate with 9/11 as it was released soon after the tragedy and as many songs were anthems for a country in sadness and fear.
I’ve never read about this song (and, in another blog post to write at some point I’ll comment on why I think reading about what an artist wants her or his reader/viewer or listener to feel and understand just limits art) but I think it might be about a firefighter. Ok. Good stuff.
But I hear in it a passion that I want to grasp. Come on up! That’s as good an invocation as a year could have. Come on up for the rising. We’re headed somewhere – somewhere good – together.
And we’ll head there through whatever challenges we have to meet. We’ll meet them together, and we’ll rise above them.
Nothing we do in education is easy. There are too many factors involved for it to be so. We are challenged. We are thwarted. We are often forlorn. But we are never alone. We do this with our colleagues, with our students, with their parents, with a greater power.
When it’s dark, we know that light will come. When we’re down, we trust that we can get back up. When our energy has left us, we know we will be filled.
We know we will rise.
Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin’ wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life
It’s a “dream of life” I am looking for, a “sky of blessed life.”
It’s the beginning of a new year. More germane to us in the education game, it’s the beginning of a new semester. We’ve had time away from the grind. We’ve had time to recharge. We’ve been able (I hope) to take some reflection time. To assess what we did last semester. To emphasize and repeat the good things and to deemphasize and adjust those that things that were not so good.
We have a chance to start a new. To refocus our energy. To
We have a chance to “come on up.”
Let’s do it.
Here’s Bruce (pretty low res, my apologies):
And, as a bonus, here’s Sting’s take on this incredible anthem: