On my first visit back to the US after moving to Costa Rica, the bus to the San Juan airport had a sign with three security rules: “No littering”, “No loud music”, and “Please do not wipe your hands on the curtains.” In Baltimore the signs warned about unattended bags being destroyed, while an ominous loudspeaker voice reminded us each minute that we should report any suspicious behavior “in times like these…”

These times are scary, hurt-full, and at times hate-full. Just this week we’ve had to face hate-crimes against Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue and African-American shoppers at a Kentucky Krogers, pipe-bomb attacks, attacks on transgender rights and immigrant rights and refugee families and and and…

This hate, fear, division and violence goes against everything we believe in and teach at the Friends School of Minnesota. I’d write more, but this amazing response by Rich Nourie, the Head of School at Abbington Friends School, says it all. Friends Schools across the country are committed to supporting a new generation of citizens who are brave, aware, compassionate, and live their lives based on strong values like peace and justice–the values that are desperately needed in times like these.

Here at our school, several teachers used their morning classroom time to hold silent Meetings for Worship to, as Melissa described it, “make sense of things happening around us and to find truth, and to hold others in the light who might need our support.” They kept discussion age-appropriate and generalized, allowing children to talk about feelings more than details, without spreading fear-inducing information to their peers. If you would like support to continue this dialogue at home, you might like to look at these tips for Talking to Children about Violence, or this more specific piece about Hate Crimes and Anti-Semitism.

After school we held a Meeting for Worship for staff to process together and support each other. We are also reviewing our procedures for “stay inside/shelter in place” and missing children procedures. It breaks my heart that we have to practice lock-down drills (at FSMN we call these “stay inside/shelter in place” drills), but that is our reality, and we are committed to keeping your children as safe as we can “in times like these.”

I came in early on this post-Halloween morning to write this Mission Moments. I thought the halls would be quiet and empty. But at 7:30am the students and teachers of the Environment Club showed up, shaking off their sugar crashes and eager to shake up the world once again. Today they are cutting bird silhouettes to save birds from crashing into windows, then going out into the cold crisp November morning to harvest the potatoes they planted last year, “We just wanted to grow something,” Steve Moe said gently.

Those potatoes will soon become snacks for the lower school, and those potato growers will become the change we wish to see in the world. Our hearts break for the victims and families in the shootings, and for our friends here in our community and around the country who feel even more unsafe than they did last week. Our hearts also mend and grow with the passion, commitment and brave openness of our children. Somewhere in this polarity of grief and hope we find ourselves, living and growing and being human together “in times like these.”

In peace,

Rick