It’s astonishingly hard to believe, but this past weekend my 50th high school reunion happened. For thirteen years, I attended a small private girls school in San Francisco. Obviously the influence of that time runs deep.
What I would not have anticipated is that the meaning of those years, their impact on me continues to evolve. There were 33 in my graduating class. About two-thirds of us are still living, and most of those gathered this past weekend for several celebratory events.
A few things astonished me…
One was the accuracy of a prediction I offered to a graduating class at the school some 30 years ago when I remarked that when they return – as most of them will do – they will be surprised and delighted to discover the glow of congenial warmth spreading over their class. I predicted a genuine connection not only to those women they most enjoyed being friends with back in the day, but also to those they may have thought at the time of graduation that they could (just possibly) live without ever seeing again. That was certainly my experience.
Another surprise was how much the school has changed for the better! I got a rigorous education at Burke’s that in many ways benefited me – it certainly taught me how to think and write critically, and I can still tell you that “Charge of the Light Brigade” is written in the “metric feet” of dactylic tetrameter (obviously a life skill everyone needs!).
However the school I attended did not always live up to the words of its founder, Miss Katherine Delmar Burke, who addressed the first graduating class in 1911 with these words: “No rule can be applied to a mind developing. The education of a child should be a matter of individuality… A child schooled in the light of her own individuality is helped to acquire a clear, quick and receptive mind adding constantly to its store and building upon a foundation firm and enduring which she herself has been led to create.”
I see that the Burke school of 2017 is living into the vision much more fully.
I have also noticed words from our school song – which we sang once again last weekend – running through my mind: “May courage be undaunted and the will to persevere. Yes. We need that. The (sometimes) stultifying and limited perspective on life I experienced there has changed. The student body is now diverse and inclusive with one in five students on some form of financial assistance sufficient for them to participate fully in the experience offered every Burke’s girl. Change is possible!
I’ve never been ashamed of coming from privilege. I was taught early on – and I’ve always believed – that the true privilege and source of fulfillment is to be in a position to support others in succeeding. I am happy to see that so many women from my class are a living expression of such values today.
Giving to others lends great depth to life – but only if it flows from an inner abundance. Nurture yourself – and reach out to find the joy of supporting others on their path in ways that are truly meaningful to you.
With You on the Path,