This year the Easter message is even more profound to me. This morning our Priest talked about how both grief and hope are present in the Easter story. We can’t have the Easter story without the grief. We can’t have the resurrection without the sacrifice. I feel both grief and hope in our current circumstances; sometimes at the same time, sometimes one more than the other. I am realizing that like fully appreciating the Easter story, acknowledging the pain, the worry, the grief, and the fear is just as important as and a precursor to leaning into the hope.
I was reminded the other day of the importance of this concept when I heard the story of Jim Stockdale told in Jim Collins’ Good to Great. Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He endured suffering and torture for seven years and came out of the prison camp “even stronger than he went in.” He said the secret to his survival was that he confronted the “brutal facts” of his situation. He never wavered in his faith that he not only would survive, but would prevail and come out stronger.
By contrast, Stockdale said it was the optimists that didn’t make it out. The prisoners that would optimistically say things like, “we will get out of here by Christmas” were the ones who didn’t survive, because Christmas would come and go and they would succumb to the depression of unmet expectations and ultimately die.
What does this mean for me and my leadership during the pandemic? I need to confront the brutal facts of this situation. Instead of optimistically saying, “we will be out by…” or “our students won’t fall behind” or even “this too will pass.” I need to lean into the challenges and grief my students, staff and I are feeling, and the challenges we will all face upon return to school. Only then can I pair it all with the faith that not only will we overcome this, but we will prevail.