Today is graduation day at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School. Below is the letter I wrote to our 2019 graduates that is published in this year’s yearbook.
Dear Members of the Class of 2019,
I have always enjoyed the opportunity to offer some reflections to our graduates in this yearbook letter in each of the ten years I have been privileged to serve as Head of All Saints’ Episcopal Day School. Writing this letter feels a bit different for me because it is the last one I shall write. However, you are in a similar situation as the members of each of the previous graduating classes to whom I have written a letter.
I have always felt a bit of a strange connection with poet T.S. Eliot since we share the same birthdate (September 26 although Eliot arrived on this earth 58 years before I did) and same hometown (St. Louis, a place that Eliot came to dislike in some ways and one for which I retain considerable affection).
T.S. Eliot had a particular fascination with time and frequently referenced the mysteries of time in his poetry and other works. All of us at ASEDS have passed by some of those words many times as we walked through the gate.
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
While I make no claim to be an expert analyst of Eliot’s work, I do know that I have been particularly conscious of these words this year. For you and for me, this is a year of endings and beginnings. The endings we experience this year are definitive and clear: graduation for you and retirement for me. I would suggest that your next big beginning is also quite clear: high school. Beginning retirement is not yet clearly structured, and so I have some work to do. But for each of us, whatever our next beginning, we need to face it with a sense of faith, purpose, and excitement. Whatever the subtleties of T.S. Eliot’s musings on time, he is correct that beginnings and ends are woven into the fabric of our lives:
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.
No matter our stage of life, no matter the endings and beginnings we may face, we live life in the same time: always now.
Some of you joined the All Saints’ community the same year I did, and many of you have joined us over the past ten years. Please know that I have delighted in walking this ASEDS path with all of you, with each of you.
And as we celebrate this ending, let me close with a few more words of wisdom from T.S. Eliot that I hope embolden us as face new beginnings:
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
With great affection and appreciation,
Leo P. Dressel
Head of School