Peace for the Journey: At the End of the Year

As the academic year winds quickly to a close, there is much to process. As part of the end of the year/semester closing process in the academic world, we are regularly processing assessment tools to gauge feedback to help us confirm what we may already know, as well as learn things that we may not have been aware.

In the on-going cycle of parenting our students, I believe it is helpful to assess how we are doing, no matter their stage of development or our vantage point on parenting.  At this point in the year, you might want to ask yourself questions such as, “How did I do parenting my student through this academic year?”  “What did I learn from what went well, and what didn’t go so well?”

You might also consider asking yourself how you sense your student did as well.  You might wonder: “How is she now asking for my help?”  “In what ways has he taken more responsibility for his life and isn’t involving me like he used to?”  “How do I feel about these changes?”

If you really want to take a step deep into the process, you might even consider asking your student how you did parenting her/him through this year.  I know, that’s risky territory – but how else will you REALLY know if you don’t ask?!  You might write down some of the key ways you have seen her take on new responsibilities and make healthy decisions.  You could list the ways you have sensed he has exhibited a more mature sense of self-competency.  Who knows what kind of dialogue this may incite?

I have added the poem below from John O’Donohue (one of my favorites) because I believe he astutely asks us, as we evaluate the year we have just lived, to look at all that was beautiful and difficult about it, so that we might know from where we have come in order that we might know even more deeply where we are headed.

I wish you well this summer!

Peace, Dane

At the End of the Year

The particular mind of the ocean

Filling the coastline’s longing

With such brief harvest

Of elegant, vanishing waves

Is like the mind of time

Opening us shapes of days.

 

As this year draws to its end,

We give thanks for the gifts it brought

And how they became inlaid within

Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

 

The days when the veil lifted

And the soul could see delight;

When a quiver caressed the heart

In the sheer exuberance of being here.

 

Surprises that came awake

In forgotten corners of old fields

Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

 

The slow, brooding times

When all was awkward

And the wave in the mind

Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkening days that stopped

The confidence of the dawn.

 

Days when beloved faces shone brighter

With light from beyond themselves;

And from the granite of some secret sorrow

A stream of buried tears loosened

 

We bless this year for all we learned,

For all we have loved and lost

And for the quiet way it brought us

Nearer to our invisible destination.

 

by: John O’Donohue

from: To Bless the Space Between us: A Book of Blessings,  p. 159.

 

The Effort to Listen

In the next few weeks, our students are coming home. They will be, as predicted, different people than the ones who left last fall.  They will be filled with new ideas about the world, about themselves, and likely about you: Mom &/or Dad.  Those new ideas can be both refreshing, exciting to engage in, and can also be a bit scary.  “Who is this person sitting in front of me?  She looks like my daughter, but I don’t recognize her anymore?

One of the many things s/he is asking of us is to listen to who s/he is becoming.  Its hard to listen when we feel fear about how things change; especially when it is a relationship we care about deeply.

We all suffer, at times, from the effort to fix or give advice rather than to listen. Theologian Paul Tillich puts it this way, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

So often when we refuse to listen, we become obsessed with remaking the world in our own image, or the way WE want it to be, rather than being open in our spirit to what is real and asking us to listen to the truth before us.

In the words of a Native American Elder, “To truly listen is to risk being changed forever.”

  • As you sit with this idea, can you bring your awareness to your propensity to fix or give advice?
  • Can you allow your breathing to loosen your hold on your efforts do or say something?
  • What do you feel about listening so deeply and attentively that you risk being changed?  

Peace, Dane.

Year in the Life of a Freshman: May

May

Transitional Issues

  • Final exams
  • Missing college friends over the summer
  • Conversations about expectations during summer months
  • Packing up to move out

Tips for Successful Parenting

Hang in there!  Finishing the first year in college is a big deal!  It’s a great opportunity to celebrate your student’s accomplishment.  Students with a year of college under their belt are not the same person you moved to campus just a short 10 months ago.

The freshman year in college is considered one of the most Continue reading “Year in the Life of a Freshman: May”