Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Be a Happy Dog

This posting comes from guest blogger and faculty member Cynthia Durgan, who houseparents and lives in Thomas House with her poodle Paisley (Paisley doesn't houseparent, though).

Paisley has always been a sensible dog, and a contented dog, but she has not always been a very sociable dog. She was about eight months old when I got her, and had been kenneled up to that time. She never feared people but, apart from the individuals with whom she bonded, she hardly paid attention to people either; she didn't expect any good from people generally.

But at The Meeting School, Paisley has gotten used to notice and pats from every person she sees. She finds kind words and friendship from everyone in this little world. Now when we go out into the greater world, walking downtown in Keene or stopping in an unfamiliar town while traveling, she expects kindness. She approaches everyone assuming that they ought to be nice to dogs, and that she ought to notice them and be nice to them. People are charmed, and they respond. People are a source of joy to her now. Here she is, an old dog, and this community has taught her a new trick, a new world view.

The Meeting School is a place where everyone can do for one another exactly what everyone has done for my dog, because the way we treat one another is education. The way we treat one another issues a message, a lesson, an example, a good one or a bad one, about who we are and what the world is, and how much we can trust it and ourselves. We educate one another constantly. It is in every word, in every moment of noticing and caring.

I want students to go out from this school with the expectation that they are worthy of regard and love, and willing to offer it. I want every student to leave here with the confidence of kindness. I want every one of them to go into the world and be a happy dog.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Stopping by Junior Writing on a Spring Morning

"If Romeo and Juliet had made appointments to meet, in the moonlight-swept orchard, in all the peril and sweetness of conspiracy, and then more often than not failed to meet - one or the other lagging, or afraid, or busy elsewhere - there world have been no romance, no passion, none of the drama for which we remember and celebrate them. Writing a poem is not so different - it is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind." - Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

During Monday's Junior Writing Class, students considered the meaning, rhyme scheme, and diction of one of Robert Frost's well-knows poems and played with some meaty vocabulary words like concatenation and sybaritic. Thankfully, the poem's interior didn't match the our spring-like climate - students were able to enjoy class outside, taking advantage of the early warm weather and the sunshine.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

- Robert Frost