Mr. Becker sent this to our students last week as they finished exams and began Thanksgiving break last week.
As you finish exams, I find myself in The Garden State (New Jersey) visiting three schools (Peck, Far Hills Country Day, and Rumson Country Day). I had a series of meetings with parents, alumni, and trustees yesterday in New York. Energizing stuff, but I’m sorry to miss the chance to say goodbye to you as you leave for the first extended break of our school year. I wanted to share a few thoughts as you finish up exams.
When Mrs. Becker is out of town, as she was last Sunday, I realize how dependent a person I really am. As I sat in church with Penny, William and Marilee and they acted fairly squirrely, I recognized how much I depend on Mrs. Becker and others for the care, feeding and organizing of our family. I also saw how dependent we are as a family on the communities of which we are a part. My kids illustrated this clearly that morning as I found myself part way through the service with only one child next to me and the other two visiting families in other pews.
Dependence quietly gave way to gratitude for those people and communities on whom I depend and that led me to reflect on what now seems like an obvious relationship between the two. As we in the United States move in to a season of thanksgiving, I wanted to recommend to all of us that we recognize how dependent we really are and, as a result, how thankful we ought to be. When we think about the first Thanksgiving celebrants we know that they were much more aware of their dependence—their creaturely dependence—than we are, separated as we are from the sources of the food, shelter, and energy we enjoy. Part of what gave rise to their celebration was very real gratitude for survival—for just being alive, and for the provision that came through the native peoples of New England and the land itself.
In 2014, it would be good for us to recapture some of this dependence and this gratitude. We are separated from the sources of our food production. We never have to wonder where the next meal will come from. We turn on the tap and clean water flows without end. We turn on lights and computers, and charge smart phones, without wonder or even curiosity. We take these truths for granted at our peril and much too easily. So my hope for myself this Thanksgiving is to cultivate a recognition of my dependence on the land, yes, and, even more, on the people and community around me.
I encourage each of you to give thanks, in person, for a friend, a teacher, and for a family member on whom you are dependent and for whom you are grateful. I hope you feel good about the work you did this week as you wrap up exams. Enjoy the opportunity to rest as you travel from here and I look forward to seeing you in December.
All the best,