I spent the past week in Washington D.C. attending an early childhood education conference. Quite the experience to see so many EC educators in one place, not only from this country, but representing teachers on an international scale. The highlights for me were workshops on making experiences with block play and math more intentional and meaningful for children.
Staying a good 40-minute walk away from the convention center allowed some opportunities to take in the nation’s capital, a place where I have spent quite a bit of time, but the majority of that as a kid who visited every year.
This time I had the chance to visit the Renwick Gallery with a friend. Currently on display was an exhibit focusing on the Burning Man Festival that takes place each year in Nevada. As its websites describes, the people attending Burning Man create a city unto themselves, “a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome.”
One central part of Burning Man is a temple designed anew each year, which gets burned at the end of the festival in addition to the namesake “Man.” In this exhibit there, too, was a temple erected completely out of wood.
What is so beautiful about this particular temple is that it was created to honor the experience of grief and loss. You can read more.
We had been looking for a way to remember a young man, the son of a friend, who died unexpectedly earlier this summer. And lo and behold, here was the temple. A total gift. It calls to mind lines from Maya Stein that I love:
We are each of us inches from death.
We are each of us inches from life.
We are each of us inches from one another.
Although we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us lift up also those experiencing grief and loss wherever they may be.
Let us walk in the holy presence.
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