This weekend I was reminded of the power of place in one’s life.
Our family has been blessed with having a farm north of Toronto for over forty-five years, a place we would go most weekends and, as kids, for the entire summer. My parents rented the land and barn to our wonderful neighbours the Boois, which resulted in our learning and experiencing some of the workings of farm life. Mr. and Mrs. Booi and their six children welcomed our help with feeding the pigs, chicken and cattle, as well as our assistance during hay season. I suspect we were often in the way, and, yet, they accepted us, taught us much, and have been like family. My father and mother loved the farm. In the summer, while we all stayed at the farm, Dad would come back and forth each week, tending to our giant vegetable garden each weekend with love and care. In hindsight, I think this time allowed him some peace and quiet from the kids, as he weeded away. We were the benefactors of the garden, though it is only later in life that I realized just how fortunate we were to be able to go down to the garden to pick lettuce, beans, beets, carrots or corn to consume for our dinner the same night. Aside from some daily chores, our time at the farm was quite unstructured, a circumstance which I believe contributed to growth in our imaginations, sense of wonder and creativity.
This past weekend, I was at the farm helping my mother and siblings pack up our belongings as we prepare to say goodbye. My mother is a very wise woman and while she still loves her farm, she decided several years ago that at a certain stage she would sell. That time has come. When the farm sale closes at the end of June, we will be saying goodbye to an era; however, we are- in so many ways- who we are because of our time at the farm. Thus, I think we will always have the farm with us.
Just like the farm, St. Clement’s has been a place at which our Graduates have learned and grown over many years. Our Graduates have been challenged over their time at the School to take risks, to lead with integrity, to practise compassion for themselves and others, and to embrace the St. Clement’s spirit. While it takes the hindsight that only time can provide, I trust that they will realize just how much their experiences at 21 St. Clement’s Avenue have shaped who they are. Unlike saying goodbye after the sale of a place, our Graduates have the benefit of being able to come back to our School- and we welcome them with open arms.
While saying goodbye to an important place can be difficult, we need to trust and take comfort that its influence will remain.