Our Children Are Not Our Children: Opening Day of Semester 37
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
This was the poem read on Opening Day by Susan Daily, our Dean of Students. Listening to these words stood the 22 students of Semester 37, their families, and all the OA faculty holding hands on Cabin 7 Field. It was the last circle before each student said a loving (and teary) goodbye to their families and truly began their 4 month adventure at The Outdoor Academy.
I had already cried more than once that afternoon, witnessing the simple, yet poignant moments shared within each family throughout the day. The gentle reminder from mother to son to stand up straight before meeting the Head of School; the prolonged hug from a little brother as he realized how much he would actually miss his older sister; the extra time spent making a bed so it felt a little more like home; the smile of relief on a father’s face as his daughter shares excitedly that she has already made a friend.
These moments are subtle and easy to miss in the bustle of unpacking trunks and signing paper work, and you may think I’m silly for tearing up over them. But, when examined more closely they are seen not just as fleeting moments exchanged between family members. They are the small goodbyes and moments of letting go that began long before our families arrived on Opening Day, and will continue long after they have returned home four months from now. They are the acknowledgement of our children’s independence; an independence unrealized without the trust and support from their families. “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows set forth.”
Over the next four months we too will honor and nurture their growing independence through moments both big and small, subtle and challenging. At OA, we recognize the important decision you have each made allowing us to care and educate your most precious blessings. It is a task we uphold with the utmost intention and integrity.
Family weekend is just around the corner. We look forward to seeing each of you again soon and bearing witness to the beautiful subtleties of a long anticipated reunion.
*See more pictures of Opening Day on our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/outdooracademy/