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Guest Post: Let's Talk About Love. And Hope.

Guest post by Aubrey Hargis


The White House flag at half-mast on December 15, 2012 
The word "heartbroken" has become cliché in the past few days, but there is not much else that fits to describe that great, painful emptiness that turns your stomach and echoes into your soul. It is not because we are sorry that the Christmas season is marred by tragedy.  It is not because we parents are grateful that our own children were spared a violent death at the hands of a mentally ill young man with easy access to assault weapons.  It is not even because we sympathize with the families who lost their loved ones.  I could quote scripture or The Prophet or Rumi, but I believe Maria Montessori understood this particular nature of societal love quite clearly when she wrote The Absorbent Mind.

This Saturday I took my kids to the National Christmas Tree to see Santa in the Ellipse in front of the White House.  I'm lucky enough to live close enough to hop on the Metro and head downtown to pop on over to the White House at any given moment's notice.  Having grown up in Texas, that fact still stuns me.  The awe will probably never wear off.  When walking around downtown, I am always filled with a kind of patriotic euphoria.  The white marbled buildings.  The stately columns. The flags.  Yes, there are a lot of flags in DC!  And on Saturday, as you might imagine, the flags were all at half-mast.  I had tried to forget.  One moment I was loudly singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" with my red-cheeked, bright eyed five year old as we skipped along the city streets, excited to see Santa, and the next moment I was sucker punched to tears again, remembering the children who wouldn't get to see Santa this year by those damned half-mast flags, waving somberly over America.


"People's souls often soften and sweeten when one speaks of children; the whole of mankind shares in the deep emotions which they awaken.  The child is a well-spring of love.  Whenever we touch the child, we touch love."   

Our children, and not just our own children but humanity's children, are the physical manifestations of our love.  And we just lost it.  Violently.  And we can't get it back.  Not with those children.  Not ever.

I know I'm not the only one out there crying intermittently as she thinks of those babies at that school and the terror of those teachers as they fought to protect them.  I'm not the only one feeling the guilt of still being a mommy of a living, breathing child as I pet the sweet, honey blonde locks that his daddy gave him and thank God that I chose to homeschool him this year.  I'm not the only one who almost doesn't dare to put this into words because how can I - how can any of us explain the depth of our heartbreak and fear without our words sounding cliche?  My only answer is that we can't.  Heartbroken is the only thing that fits, because it's the only thing there is when it comes to love's end.
But Montessori believed in hope.  She believed that love is a reality not only worth pursuing but inescapable for us.  It is our destiny to follow love, not just for the sake of reproducing our species but for some higher purpose.  She ends The Absorbent Mind urging us to continue to study the child, the source of love, following this path our in our anguish and cares.  To reach for salvation and the union of mankind above all else.

This is what makes a Montessori classroom "feel" like a Montessori classroom.  It isn't the sandpaper letters or the pink tower.  It's the commitment to world peace by loving our children, our ultimate hope.  The belief that by focusing on the children, nurturing and educating them, we can overcome great human struggles, like our vast differences in race and religion.  

Is Montessori's vision realistic?  Are our children themselves the path to our release from hellish, nonsensical violence against our very human hearts and souls?  How can we allow them to be broken again and again like this?  Can we fight back with love?

Can we - dare we - have hope?

I believe so.  





Aubrey Hargis is a mommy to two little mischief makers and a Montessori educator.  She can usually be found dancing in the living room, singing silly songs, puttering in the kitchen, encouraging giant artsy messes, and reading stories to her little ones.  She writes about using Montessori philosophy in the home at Montessori Mischief.  




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