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Life-Love 44: Saying good-bye to a good class

This is a bittersweet life-love. There are few things in the world that are as poignant as saying good-bye to people with whom you’ve worked closely for a good stretch of time. As a university professor, for me this often means the last day of class. I have felt this in office or community projects, where everyone is striving toward a common goal and get to know one another pretty well along the way. The last day is sad and magical at the same time – there is a feeling of finality, of arriving. You remember the strong moments when tempers flared or personal weakness and a lack of confidence were revealed. These were human moments and, if you lived them honestly, they helped you understand the pain that others carry in their hearts – sometimes a small nagging doubt about their abilities, sometimes a heavy burden that pushes down on their shoulders like deadweight. This pain makes people close themselves and not venture to share opinions or solutions that they have thought of. In those group moments, though, if they feel accepted and welcome, they will feel comfortable enough to share their burden. That is the power of a generous heart, and in any learning group – whether at work, at school or in the community – there is a strong chance that, if the climate open and welcoming, a recognition of personal weakness can happen and the path to healing can begin. This is the way of peace. In my classroom, there are many such moments. I see the students struggle with the material, with their life-challenges and with themselves. I watch happily as they consult one another and friendships of mutual support form between some of them. I watch growth and healing happen. That is the crux of learning, and the last day of class, there is a certain warmth in the air, a happy familiarity – it is a moment of looking back reflectively and looking forward hopefully. I live for that feeling, really.

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