At My 60th Elementary School Reunion

The child is father of the man
— Wordsworth
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Can innocence be reconciled with experience?  At my 60th elementary school reunion last week, my encounters with 31 of my childhood companions from the joyful Hunter College Elementary School were magicalized by the co-presence in each of them of the child I remembered, speaking through their 71 year-old selves. The still living innocent and loving children—our essences from the still-living past—peeked through the grown-up casing roughed up by whole lives lived in our relatively hardened “outer” world. When the child falls relatively silent in our adult performances, our experience can weigh us down in roles and gestures that are but shadows of the spirits that we truly are, and then our selves get the better of our being. But there at the reunion, the child in each of us joyfully lifted our being out through these adult selves and made us suddenly present to each other as we were, and as we still are when we can access it. But we can only access that innocent and loving life-force through each other, and therein the lies the hope and necessity of giving rebirth to “the movement.” For what moves in the movement, when it arises, is that beautiful mutuality of true Presence that ricochets across social space and thaws the legacy of fear and doubt that separates us.


Peter Gabel