Brava! Bravo!

by Gabrielle Farrell, April 1


“Courage,” Maya Angelou writes,  “is the most central virtue because without it you can not consistently live out the other virtues.” Can we teach courage then?  Writers, philosophers and theologians alike suggest that courage is borne from engaging the world, not being protected from it. But what about now?  Are we protecting ourselves from it or showing courage in protecting others?

When we become parents, we are, in those early years, almost exclusively consumed with learning how to protect.  We begin to see the world as a dangerous place or at least, we develop this cataract if it wasn’t there before.   Later, after taking a breath, we remember that protecting needs some calibration with engagement and independence.  We come to this earlier when we are surrounded by a community — institutions and people — we trust.  We are trying to be that place at River Road. Right now I see so many in our community and world, who are trying to be that for each other. It gives me hope.

As an educator and a parent, I try to help children learn they are capable beings and provide opportunities for them to learn how to take care of themselves.  I do this against a deep faith that as educator Shirin Vossoughi states,  “Kids are brilliant and it’s our responsibility to notice their brilliance and [provide opportunities to] deepen it.”

Mindful that we are in Week 3 of living on top of each other, Mr. Vossoguhi may sound foolish but I also know that doing the harder thing is almost always the better thing — to venture away and trust what we can, in these times, mostly ourselves.    As a parent,  these have been my most difficult moments and they are done without notice – no modeling here and no bravas. My goal was that my daughter not see how scared I was.  I failed far more than I wish I had. I am now getting yet another chance.

How are you managing this traverse?  What do you need from us?  Where can we be courageous?  To what location can we venture together?  With whom shall we befriend? We answer these questions in little and large ways, small acts and large actions, with proclamation and with silence, sometimes alone but often together. Join the Family Check-In on Zoom at 4:30, or come late and afterwards if you need to stay on the line, we will be there.

I acknowledge your courage these weeks and the weeks ahead.  I went out on my porch and yelled and applauded for you…BRAVA, BRAVO!

I hope you heard it.

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