It’s taken me a while to distill into words the glorious interlude we experienced over the weekend in Ojai. It was without exception one of the most life- affirming, hopeful weekends of my life. It was utopian…a glimpse into a world that not only could be but actually was, and the radiant residue is clearly still cloaking the kids as they move about wearing Olivia’s magical invisible goggles. One of the kids said to me on Sunday, “I never knew everyone was so beautiful.” I think we the adults have always known how beautiful our students are, but you can’t teach that kind of awareness-it’s organic and has to originate from within.
Harriet and Steve, you have given us a gift that will continue to expand exponentially as our kids move through their lives. Nothing can replace the profound experience of your son with you on this side of the veil. But Chief Seattle, in his surrender speech in 1854 that I study with my American Literature classes, said, “Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely-hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting grounds to visit, guide, console and comfort them…There is no death; only a change of worlds.” and there is no question that everyone on this trip to Ojai, kids and adults alike, loves their lives more for having spent two days of it together this way. I will take with me forever the sight of those kids arms wrapped around each other, singing their “barbaric yawp” in the gold of the setting sun.