September! The days are becoming shorter and the darkness is growing. Over are the long days of summer. It is time to harvest the fruit, collect the chestnuts, and can the vegetables in preparation for winter. However, we are always reluctant to let go of the sunshine and the light, but… we have to! We have to gather the courage to turn inward, to take a breath, and to digest the wonderful experiences from the summer.
Mother Nature helps us with this process as we feel the evenings grow colder, the leaves change, the briskness in the air. It is Michaelmas time, the time of taking up challenges—the challenges of balance and courage.
Michael is often shown in pictures with two attributes: the scales and a sword. What does it mean? The scale, an instrument of precision, is held by a secure hand and shows balance. During this time of the year the day and night are in balance for a very short time. It is also the instrument that weighs our deeds and asks how we have contributed to our community and how we care for ourselves. Are these in balance? We also become very aware of our own limitations, our inabilities, and most of all, our doubts. Do we have the courage to face our own inner dragons and overcome them?
The sword, an instrument of strength, is held by a swinging hand and represents conflicts and tension. In this time of the year, fights and arguments can flare up. There is a tension between the coming darkness and the desire to hold onto the light. Courage is necessary to resolve this conflict. There is also a struggle within that occurs: ruling others by forcing one’s opinion, or ignoring and not trying to understand. Recognizing this struggle helps us become more open and free to listen to others. But conflict is not all bad. Conflict within oneself leads to peace, understanding, balanced relationships, and room for more diverse points of view. This takes courage to accomplish.
So the sword and the scale work in concert. Michael can become the inspiration for us in this time of year in the fight for more openness of the soul to find the inner balance so the light of summer can return within us during the darker winter time. In community with others, the individual has to sacrifice something of him/herself in order to find balance and come back to the light.
If we can model this attitude for our students, they will have the courage to face new challenges in their lives—the challenge of making new friends in a new school, tackling new material, and reaching out to new people. They will find the inner motivation to follow their passion and not feel the pressure from the outside world to perform in a certain way. They too need to face their “dragons” and try to tame them. They will be encouraged by us facing our inner dragons.
–Nettie Fabrie, Acting Head of School (September 6-October 28)