BLOG: The Best Way Out Is Always Through

It had been a long day. A long year. And I almost didn’t stay...




After a picnic at the school where my kindergartener…a-hem…soon-to-be first grader had just finished her year, I was drawn into the building by a sea of parents and students to support the sixth graders in their graduation ceremony.


One by one, their teacher brought them center stage to highlight their individuality, strengths, and experiences.


She has this amazing ability to put her finger on the pulse of each soul, draw out the radiance, and reflect it right back to them so that they were able to bask in the glow of being so deeply seen, and heard, and understood.


And then the students themselves had the opportunity to add their own reflections.


Of course, each had a different style - some listing events, some more expressive, some with advice of their own.


One in particular, took the opportunity to say what he needed to say.


He began, “You will never know the depth of my regret for the things that I have done.”


At this, his voice caught. My own head cocked at this unexpected admission.


“For the mistakes I have made.”


A pause.


“I am…so grateful to…everyone…and especially…my teacher....”


At this, the dam broke and unbridled emotion flowed full force.


As a buttress, his teacher simply put her arm around him, bowed her head in acknowledgement and respect, and stood in stillness.


We sat in stillness.


And that stillness wrapped around each of us, keeping us safe, keeping him safe in the face of a fierce, raw emotion that threatened our sense of propriety and comfort.


There was no fidgeting, no looking around for the nearest escape route, no deep sighs of reproach or impatience. Merely a stillness that allowed the emotion to move through and move on with greater facility.


After a bit, he chose not to continue and took his seat.


The ceremony went on, the other kids were honored, the head of school spoke, and just as we were about to disperse, the teacher asked us to remain seated.


The student wasn't finished. He wanted to try again. He wanted to stand up before his entire school and all the parents to complete the sentiment he had come to express.


And he did.


He talked again about how sorry he was for the mistakes he had made. He talked about being accepted nonetheless and about second chances. He talked about gratitude.


He laid himself open and gave us an intimate lesson in redemption.


And he’s only eleven.


I sat in awe of this boy.


And I sat in awe of the community that initially provided the space for him to have this most profound experience – for us ALL to have this most profound experience now as he reflected.


It was a gift.


We all KNOW that mistakes happen and, sometimes, HUGE ones. 


But to experience it. ALL of it. To sit with the discomfort, move through it, learn, and come out the other end knowing, down to the depths of your soul, that you will be okay, that there will still be people to love you - that is the practice.


And this gift came in such a beautiful and unexpected package, at the end of a long day, and a long year, to revive us and remind us of what is possible. 




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