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Sean's The Business of Hope

The Business of Hope
by Sean Felix (MS Dean of Community / 6th Grade Core)

Presented in the final Faculty & Staff meeting before winter break.
the avenues are empty
and these streets don’t echo
silent mothers count
the bluebirds in the park

these streets don’t echo
when the stag crosses her path
the bluebirds in the park
watch our breasts rise and fall

when the stag crosses her path
the silent mother counts
watching our breasts rise and fall
and the avenues remain empty

***
Every morning I do two laps of the Burke mile, and take in the neighborhood. At 7am the area is fairly quiet. There are construction workers parking and arriving at job sites, many people walking their dogs, and others like me trying to get in a bit of exercise before the day begins. There are of course regulars out everyday, and we all nod and say hello to each other when we pass.

As I’ve grown accustomed to the motion and space, the walk has become a type of meditation on the nature of time, age, and attention. As the seasons change the beauty of the trees exploded into a kaleidoscope of autumn’s color. One morning I wrote:

sitting
in a Japanese maple
pink dawn

i take off my sweatshirt
so I can feel the chill air
on my neck and arms
i look over
and naive crocus
lay wilted at the base of a tree

I always say hello to everyone I pass on the street. When I first started walking in the neighborhood I would pass by the same strongly perfumed woman everyday. Initially, when we passed each other she would meet my hello with a fairly stern face. I figured I was disturbing her reverie, but had resolved to always say hello as I do to everyone I pass, if we ever passed each other again. It took a while but since our initial meetings, we see each other now, almost every morning and our greetings while still brief are now accompanied with smiles and well wishes. Perhaps someday we will find out each other’s names. One day as we passed, I wrote:

my morning companion
walks past me
smelling of jasmine

Along with greeting everyone I pass, I always make it a point when I walk to look up to the sky. We have to remember to take the time to look up. The canopy of the trees and the delight of the birds is truly startling to behold. Unfortunately, our perseverance to get us through the past 3 years has turned our gazes increasingly downward or into an electronic space of escape. I find it distressing when I walk in the mornings, how few people take the time to lift their eyes to the sky. To watch:

the auburn leaves sizzle
in the upper breeze
while listening to
a song they do not know
rise from a bamboo grove

It’s clear that my walks have given me a ton of time to think, and when Damian asked me to give a reflection on what we needed to look to for the future I thought of my walk and tried to encapsulate the experience into what it meant for me. And I thought that it is incredible that one of the things that has happened to us is that we fear to hope. That the world in which we live is not progressing but suspended in space and time. Our orbits are frozen, a rictus descended upon our faces as we wait to confront some new risk, some new threat from either within or without.

And I want to say to you, and really solidify in my own heart that despite everything, to fly in the face of the pain and trying circumstances, to fly in the face of depression, and toxic positivity, to counteract the confusion and walls of egotism we build to protect ourselves from the true darkness and to navigate the labyrinth to find our center we need to be clear, and let me be clear. There is light and we are in the business of hope. And regardless of all evidence to the contrary we must always build on the possibility that we and everyone we come in contact with can make this world better.

we must embrace
the power of our words
the sanctity of our hearts
the truth of our actions
and the possibility of our love
and remember
that the doors which open
on the the horizon of hope
open for us all
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