My dear colleague,
How could we have guessed, one year ago today, what was ahead of us professionally and personally? The hardship, the uncertainty, the fearfulness, the frustration, the angst, the triumphs and failures. None of us knew.
This Thanksgiving morning, I'm thinking about you — about what it's been like to travel through a year like this knowing that there are good people in this work and in this life, dedicated to midwifing an education for other people's children, driven to teach by a neighbor-love upon which the whole world continues to run.
Speaking of neighbors, there was a sign that hung in Fred Roger's office for many years. “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” it said in French. It was a quotation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince.
What is essential is invisible to the eye. Why would a man like Fred Rogers value that line so highly that he'd frame it in his office?
I think that one reason is that Fred Rogers was the world's first remote teacher. He, like you and me, had to believe that what was happening between him and his television neighbors was something special. “Holy,” Fred Rogers called it in correspondence with a friend — that space between screen and child was holy ground, he said.
And he prayed that it would be — that his simple words on a screen would be translated into something that helped. And it was.
I've been thinking a lot about what is essential as these months have gone by — about what it means to have a correspondence with someone like you, someone whom I've probably never met in person, who I perhaps never will. And what does it mean to be grateful for a person like that — is that even a sane or rational gratitude to feel?
But I do feel it, and I do think on it more and more these days. You've made a difference for me — each time you read, each time you share something, each time you take a deep breath and log into Zoom one more time or meet one more colleague with a kindness you're not sure you're capable of.
Which is all a way of saying that I'm thankful for you today, colleague, and I pray that goodness and mercy will follow you all of your days.