Theme for the Year:
The Art of Relationship
At the beginning of each school year, Oak Grove’s faculty, administrative staff, and board members look into the year’s theme. For the 2021-2022 year, The Art of Relationship was chosen as the theme. Staff broke into inquiry groups to discuss how a focus on strong, intentional, and responsive relationships can inform all aspects of curriculum and school life and contribute to an overall sense of student well-being and belonging. How can the community cultivate a culture that puts people first – that fosters trust and connection, empowers people with resources and support, and inspires all learners to actively engage in their own learning?
Below is the provocation that was used for this year’s theme, which is from Commentaries on Living on Love and Relationship:
“THE PATH WENT by a farm and climbed a hill overlooking the various buildings, the cows with their calves, the chickens, the horses, and many farm machines. It was a pleasant path, wandering through the woods, and it was often used by deer and other wild animals who left their footprints here and there in the soft earth. When it was very still, the voices from the farm, the laughter, and the sound of the radio, would be carried to quite a distance. It was a well-kept farm and there was an air of tidiness about it. Often the voices were raised in anger, followed by the silence of children. There was a song among the trees and the angry voices even broke through this song. Suddenly, a woman came out of the house, banging the door; she went over to the cow-shed and began beating a cow with a stick. The sharp noise of this beating came up the hill.
How easy it is to destroy the thing we love! How quickly a barrier comes between us, a word, a gesture, a smile! Health, mood, and desire cast a shadow, and what was bright becomes dull and burdensome. Through usage we wear ourselves out, and that which was sharp and clear becomes wearisome and confused. Through constant friction, hope, and frustration, that which was beautiful and simple becomes fearful and expectant. Relationships are complex and difficult, and few can come out of it unscathed. Though we would like it to be static, enduring, continuous, relationship is a movement, a process which must be deeply and fully understood and not made to conform to an inner or outer pattern. Conformity, which is the social structure, loses its weight and authority only when there is love. Love in a relationship is a purifying process as it reveals the ways of the self. Without this revelation, relationship has little significance.
But how we struggle against this revelation! The struggle takes many forms: dominance or subservience, fear or hope, jealousy or acceptance, and so on and on. The difficulty is that we do not love; and if we do love we want it to function in a particular way, we do not give it freedom. We love with our minds and not with our hearts. Mind can modify itself, but love cannot. Mind can make itself invulnerable, but love cannot; mind can always withdraw, be exclusive, become personal or impersonal. Love is not to be compared and hedged about. Our difficulty lies in that which we call love, which is really of the mind. We fill our hearts with the things of the mind and so keep our hearts ever empty and expectant. It is the mind that clings, that is envious, that holds and destroys. Our life is dominated by the physical centres and by the mind. We do not love and let it alone, but crave to be loved; we give in order to receive, which is the generosity of the mind and not of the heart. The mind is ever seeking certainty, security; and can love be made certain by the mind? Can the mind, whose very essence is of time, catch love, which is its own eternity?
But even the love of the heart has its own tricks; for we have so corrupted our heart that it is hesitant and confused. It is this that makes life so painful and wearisome. One moment we think we have love, and the next it is lost. There comes an imponderable strength, not of the mind, whose sources may not be fathomed. This strength is again destroyed by the mind; for in this battle the mind seems invariably to be the victor. This conflict within ourselves is not to be resolved by the cunning mind or by the hesitant heart. There is no means, no way to bring this conflict to an end. The very search for a means is another urge of the mind to be the master, to put away conflict in order to be peaceful, to have love, to become something.
Our greatest difficulty is to be widely and deeply aware that there is no means to love as a desirable end of the mind. When we understand this really and profoundly, then there is a possibility of receiving something that is not of this world. Without the touch of that something, do what we will, there can be no lasting happiness in relationship. If you have received that benediction and I have not, naturally you and I will be in conflict. You may not be in conflict, but I will be; and in my pain and sorrow I cut myself off. Sorrow is as exclusive as pleasure, and until there is that love which is not of my making, relationship is pain. If there is the benediction of that love, you cannot but love me whatever I may be, for then you do not shape love according to my behaviour. Whatever tricks the mind may play, you and I are separate; though we may be in touch with each other at some points, integration is not with you, but within myself. This integration is not brought about by the mind at any time; it comes into being only when the mind is utterly silent, having reached the end of its own tether. Only then is there no pain in relationship.”
Head of School