Frodo and Gandalf and COVID-19

This seems like a good time to reread The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know what the next few weeks (or maybe next few months) will really look like, but with time at home and string of rainy days in the immediate future, the idea of an inspirational tale of reluctant heroes doing their best against a faceless villain seems more than a little appealing.

It’s week three away from school and my days are filling up with preparations to push learning online. I know from my role of dad of two, a high school freshman and a sixth grader, how welcome that tether to some kind of normal is for parents, and I can see in my own kids the stress of missing school, not just the classes, but friends, lunches, and activities. …and classes too.

So, like Frodo looking down at that magical ring, we’re all coming to grips with the new reality, a reality that we’ll be living with for a while, and like Frodo, we recognize that this isn’t what we expected. As the young hobbit says to the old wizard in the first book of the epic:

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

So too for us.

Like Frodo and the gang, we’re looking out at the hills ahead, pushed to put our pleasant Shire aside (at least for a while) and preparing to take our first steps into an unknown world that spreads out before us. Crisis pushes us forward, and we hope (and have to believe) that we’re up to the challenges this adventure will bring.

I think we are, particularly at our little school, so filled with creative spirit and artistic souls.

Truth be told, as stressful as all this is, and it would be a fib to say it isn’t stressful, I’m looking forward to what our teachers will come up with. They’re planning now, and knowing the creativity that fills that group of wizards and elves, I’ll wager that there will be a bit of fun to this whole enterprise. 

And how will the students respond? I’m guessing with all the artistic, creative, and delightfully clever energy they bring to school every day.

How I miss that energy. The halls of ACMA are filled with magic. We’re not perfect, no place is, but this time away has me longing to be back on campus with the amazing students and staff who make our school what it is.

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That’s not to say that going online is how any of us want to do this. We recognize the challenges, particularly those for whom internet connectivity is difficult, students who have needs hard to meet remotely, and students whose homes may not provide the same space to learn as a classroom or library.

We understand as well that going to school means more than going to classes. Part of the joy of ACMA, a big part, are the students who fill our hallways, acting out scenes in theater class, filming and photographing, hurrying to dance class. From the opening music of the morning to the bustle of lunch, seeing students building our community one interaction at a time, often with applause, is a joy I think all of us are missing. At ACMA there is always artwork on the walls and we’re never more than a few days away from a concert, a performance, or an open mic night.

Right now, as we shelter in place, at hundreds of different places, we know that we’re more than a few days away from any of that. I know that for me that feeling of missing the students and adults of our ACMA family is profound. And…

The day will come when we’re together again.

When? Not soon enough, but then again, we weren’t asked if we wanted a pandemic. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

My vote that we do all that we do with patience, kindness, and creativity. We’ll know more when we know more. Like Frodo, we can imagine our quest’s end, even if we don’t know all the pitfalls and surprises along the way.

And like that Fellowship of the Ring, we can embark with hope, cautious optimism, and the belief that together we’ll live up to the challenge we’ve been called to face.

One thought on “Frodo and Gandalf and COVID-19

  1. Pingback: Dungeons and Distance | bjornpaige

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