A great deal of what I understand in life, I learned from the farm. I learned about the cycle of life and the impermanence of nearly everything (change is guaranteed) along with the powerlessness in the face of nature (it’s not fair doesn’t apply to tornados, blizzards and drought).
I remember standing with my father looking at an irrigation system and having him explain that each segment of the pipeline that brought the water from beneath the Earth to the corn crop that was threatened by drought was more expensive than our home…and was the lifeline for all of us who depended on the farm.
Reciprocal: equal exchange — to both give and receive — to be willing to give when you have enough and to be willing to receive when you are in need
To both give and to receive and to know that both will be asked of you — required of you. Those of us who depended on the farm learned early that in the bountiful harvest, when the silos were overflowing and the bank accounts were full — to act with justice as there would be a moment that we would find ourselves on the other side. Times to support the bank loan and times to need it. To be in the position of being reciprocal.
We find ourselves in the fourth week of school. The early resolutions of both students and adults wane in the face of reality. The promises of homework done and benchmarks made and high expectations begin to waiver in the face of challenge. For more than three decades, I have watched this experience among our most commmitted students and I know it myself — that promise that I want to have happen is confronted by the challenge of trying to control the impossible. I fight the temptation to want to rescue our students, or to finish the job left incomplete by colleagues — to prevent the embarrassment that some will know in less than satisfactory progress and to keep holding and looking into the reflective mirror that is required before we can make real change.
And then, I recall the lessons I learned in my early morning walks through fields hanging on to the ring of cloth intended for a hammer on my father’s work pants. Reciprocal — it is to realize the lessons of give and take To receive the gifts of the harvest, we have to give the effort of the planting. It’s never immediate and there is no guarantee, but the harsh teacher called nature provides example for us — as parents, grandparents and educators — to let resilience be harvested with our planting of responsibility in the lives of our children. If we rescue them from the simple choice they have before them today, we strip away the autonomous gift given in understanding the mystery and magic of “reciprocal.”
They need “reciprocal” — fundamental to both leadership and citizenship — to learn the power of humility in receiving and the power of compassion in giving…both born of being given the space to learn that the seed you cultivate is the one you harvest.
Make today count…”Reciprocal” in process