I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne er a word said she,
But O! The things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

Sorrow is a great teacher, as is its close cousin, the unexpected. To recenter, we have to be decentered. And our decentering almost always has to be imposed on us we seldom make that shift by ourselves; it is too risky and we are too naturally conservative.

Children and teenagers are in better condition for this than adults are: even in good times, they are constantly having change imposed on them. No sooner do they get comfortable than their parents or their bodies or some other force outside their control forces a shift on them. And so in times of upheaval (once they have confirmed their basic safety), they are quicker to find their feet, better at crafting a future from whatever resources they find at hand. It is their particular genius, just as we elders, and we of householding age, have our own. 

The next time you are with a young person, don’t tell them how we should move forward from this massive global decentering; ask them. They are uniquely well suited for this moment; we need them.

-- The Rev. Barbara Talcott, St. Mark’s School


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