“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
…And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird…
~Emily Dickinson from Poem 254
The end of the school year is the season of barely feathered hope in my world. The academic nest is crowded, the competition fierce, the future uncertain. Those who have struggled to survive in classes, in debt, in relationships, in a tenuous job market, can find themselves ill equipped and unprepared to fly on their own. Their lack of feathering becomes obvious the closer they get to the edge. Bashed and abashed, they worry and panic, sleep little, self-medicate, cry easily, contemplate death. Sometimes they tumble.
We try to catch them before they fall.
We remind them: it takes only one feather to have hope in a soaring future of grace and strength. Only one.
The others will come.