I hope the past two months have brought rest, renewal, and lots of enjoyment. That has certainly been the case for me as the start of the 2011-2012 school year looms ever closer on the horizon.
Much of the consolation of the past two months for me revolves around grandparenting. Most obviously that is in turn connected to the two weeks Jan and I spent in the middle of this month with our three children, their spouses and our ten grandchildren at our annual beach vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan. This was the fourteenth consecutive such gathering so things have become quite ritualized. The cottage we rent has not grown, but our grandchildren certainly have in those years. However, they have no interest in finding more commodious accommodations. The memories they have built and the familiarity of the surroundings are keys to their enjoyment of this annual event.
Grandparents bring a particular kind of comfortable familiarity to their grandchildren’s lives. Being a grandparent is a singular privilege and blessing. While parents and grandparents have the same fundamental task regarding the children in our family, i.e., to love them purely and unconditionally, there is a sweet nuance to grandparent-grandchildren love. It’s a bit difficult for me to articulate the quality of that nuance, but it has to do with time and perspective. The grandparental perspective makes their love a bit less anxious than it is for parents, a bit more serene about the future. And conversely the youth of our grandchildren points to a future that will happily extend after our years on earth come to a close.
Another less predictable grandparenting experience took place in late June at the Institute for Experienced Heads that I attended. At the closing session of the event one of my colleagues, the head of an Episcopal school in San Francisco, was asked to offer his reflections on where he experienced the “juice of the job”- an image used by one of our workshop leaders, Rob Evans. My colleague noted that at this stage of his career as head he was increasingly aware of the legacy dimensions of his job…of the grandfatherly impact of his leadership. (That notion certainly resonated with me and is quite compatible with the wisdom that a school’s board is making decisions that will ensure the school’s strength for the children of the current students.) My friend also powerfully suggested that our schools are called to be places of belovedness. My hope is that my presence contributes to making my family and my school places of belovedness…a noble legacy to which we can all aspire.
Until next time…