“And those who were seen dancing, were thought to be crazy, by those who could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

There are two sides to every coin. That adage has really spoken truth to me over the years.

In terms of my understanding of God, I have come to realize that my truth is meaningful, nurturing, and valid. But, that understanding is not the only valid possibility, and I must also take the time to consider the other side(s) of the coin.

With pastoral care and listening, I must remember that my lived experiences, convictions, and circumstances represent but a subset of the entirety of human existence and encounters. If I fail to do so, I may not be open to the side of the coin the other is presenting.

As a lover of sports, and a fierce competitor, I have known both the highs of success and the lows of defeat; been on the winning side some days and the losing side many others. In both occasions, I must remember the flipped version of the coin I am experiencing, having empathy to lift the other up in victory; to truly feel the agony of the other who came up short.

There are two sides to every coin. This adage has once again crept into my consciousness, especially over the past few weeks.

Like many around the world, I have been quarantined to my home, forced to navigate a season of life that, until now, was unfamiliar. I have yearned to be with my Berkeley community – to gather with you again in person for prayer, classes, clubs, plays, sports, conversations, a workout, meetings, and much more. I have longed to walk the campus, calling you out by name, offering and receiving a friendly smile and an uplifting word. I have missed students, colleagues, families, volunteers, coaches, and alumni. I have been spun out of my daily and weekly rituals, feeling a bit askew and out of sorts. I have ached for the sacred grounds on Kelly road, with its palpable spirit, nurturing environment, and lively population. This side of the pandemic coin already feels worn and out-of-date.

But, there are two sides to every coin. And the other side does have something holy to offer.

I have been forced to muster greater creativity, effort, and humility in my lesson planning and my offering of remote learning classes. I have been invited to encourage my Berkeley family in new and recharged ways. I have been given the great honor of connecting with people in the midst of frustration and struggle, challenged to walk with them on this shadowy journey. I have been afforded the space to reconsider prayer, reflection, and hope in different terms and venues. I have also spent more sacred and concentrated time with my own family than I have in years – going on multiple walks around the neighborhood, eating many meals together, actively participating in the daily education of children, and reconnecting with my wife and recapture some rituals that had been lost in the busyness of life. This side of the pandemic coin is full of refreshment, stimulation, and hope.

My prayer, for all of us these days, is to consider both sides of this coin. To yearn for a joyful return to campus, but at the same time, cherish what we now behold.

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Founded in 1960, Berkeley is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory day school located in Tampa, FL, for boys and girls in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. Approximately 1,380 students gather here from the greater Tampa Bay area to form ONE Berkeley.