My colleague, Fran McGreevy of Root-Ed, recently quoted Thoreau,

“Most men live lives of quiet desperation and will go to their graves with their song still unsung.”

The quote highlights the human tragedy. And Fran ignited my consideration of ‘longing.’

What is the longing in one’s heart?  The longing that propels us?  What is the longing that calls forth grit, perseverance, and persistence?  How do we blow wind into our longings?  Those of our children?

Longings of the Heart

I emailed my Middle Years teachers immediately, “What if every student graduated from our school in Grade 9 in touch with and aware of their hearts’ longings?”

Fran pointed me to David Brooks, NY Times columnist, who asserts, “People need a powerful why if they are going to be able to endure any how.”  He wonders how we should be designing school to unlock those longings.

Of course, we all sat in a meeting only 48 hours later acknowledging the transient nature of longing and how the longings of our heart when we are 5 years, 12 years, 18 and 38 years change and shift.  I’m sure it continues, although I am not much past that point.

Photo by Natalie Rhea Riggs on Unsplash

Photo by Jordan Madrid on Unsplash

My Longings

Then, I began to connect with my own longings.  What do I deeply long for: meaningful work, an artful life, and deep, deep love.

Are those the big ‘L’ Longings?  Is there a longing that can be satisfied?

Now I turn to the universal story of the Fall.  Adam and Eve were thriving in every way.  They lived in connection with God; their communion naked and nourished.  They were satisfied.  Yet, they experienced the lower case ‘l’ longing.  The fruit.  Did it satisfy?  No.  Were they satisfied without it?  No.

So, obviously, there are holy longings.


So, when I search my own experience.  What are the longings that satisfy?  Longings, when tapped into, bring me life?

These longings are rooted in my faith.  I’m certain.  It is a faith that is active, involved, and full of risk and uncertainty.

To serve, to make a difference, to be a change-maker…

Those longings are capital ‘L’ for me.  They aren’t based on how much money I make, whether I have a new designer handbag, or on my earthly achievements.  I die to those longings and new ones are resurrected in me!  They lead to life!  I choose life.

Interestingly, my faith calls me to life abundant and I am nourished.  There is just so much less pursuing and driving and so much more loving and serving.


Then, something even more remarkable happens.  I am free to allow my children to be exactly who they are!!  I release my need to make them perfect and approach them with more gentleness and support.  It impacts all of the children I come in contact with throughout my days as a school administrator.  I don’t need to force them into my vision of childhood, I need to honour them as they learn and grow.

I am free because I simply focus on what matters most: the longings that fill my heart!

For the sake of the children,