“We must admit there will be music despite everything.” – Jack Gilbert
As we approach the Winter Solstice, darkness is conspicuous. It is no surprise, then, that many winter holidays celebrate and honor the light that illuminates the darkness and reassures us of the return of spring. Many religious and spiritual rituals feature introspection and reflection on our histories, traditions, and values at this time of year. We come together with family and friends to reconnect. We find time to catch up with ourselves as well as others in our midst.
This has been a challenging year. We have lost prominent artists, intellectuals, journalists, and social justice activists. In the aftermath of the presidential election, hate crimes have risen, and our children ask questions that we may struggle to answer about the fate and future of our polarized country. As parents, in the face of sometimes overwhelming external challenges, it can be a struggle to decisively and confidently illuminate a clear path.
More than ever, the arts can furnish the light that ushers us out of darkness. It is no wonder the arts are such a valued and integral part of Turning Point’s curriculum and tradition. They explore ambiguity and nuance, showcase myriad viewpoints, and encourage us to look at the familiar with new eyes. The arts open possibilities, challenge dogma, create and celebrate beauty. They encompass the fullness of our humanity and transform us into thinkers who can learn to trade easy pleasures for more complex ones—and gain wisdom in the process.
Modeling for our children the ability to wonder, to imagine, and to question can help them (and us!) navigate our intricate world. In a recent Dallas News commentary, “Why I Took My Daughter to an Art Museum After the Election,” Joshua J. Whitfield notes the “danger…when we use our children to assuage our angst.” He argues for replacing the futile acts of “lecturing, sentimentalizing…trying to make the world right with words when we know we can’t” with art, which has the power to transcend language. Whitfield says in the wake of the unexplainable, “I could only think to find beauty and to be quiet there.”
As we prepare for Winter Break, I hope all of our Turning Point community will find the opportunity to find beauty, fellowship, and the space for introspection within the light; whether you commune by firelight, moonlight, candlelight, or decorative lights, let there be some attention to “making.” The Greek word for “to make” is poesis—which not coincidentally is the root of “poetry.” We have the opportunity to make, to create, to transform the world, in the true spirit of poetry.
The 13th century Persian, Muslim poet, and theologian Rumi leads us back into our hearts through the pursuit and appreciation of art. He says that when we “wake up empty and frightened…/Take down a musical instrument./Let the beauty we love be what we do./There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
I wish for all of you and yours a healthy, joyful holiday season enjoyed in the unique and beautiful ways in which each of our families celebrate, and which perhaps will include a visit to an art museum, a performing arts event, or thoughtful immersion in a quiet, beautiful place.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School