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A letter to my middle school friends about Covid19

My dear middle school friends (and all kids growing up right now),

It’s 5:00am and I’m wide awake. I’m thinking about you. Outside my window I can see a few stars, still bright in the sky before sunrise. And a bird that is happily singing away, getting an early start.

It’s only been a little over a week since our world was turned upside down by Covid19. Since we were all ordered to stay home, not go to school, stay separate from our friends. I know you are feeling bored, lonely, trapped and scared. This situation sucks. And you have good reason to feel all of those things. Over the last few days it’s really been hitting me that this is not going to be over quickly. And because of that, because of the extreme measures we’re taking as individuals and as communities all over the world, this is going to be a defining moment in your life. It will stay with you in deep and lasting ways.

Covid19 is the kind of experience that shapes a generation. Like war or famine, a pandemic disease becomes a marker in time; there’s a distinct difference in the way things were “before” and they way they are “after.” Since we are right in the middle of it, we don’t know yet what the difference will be between "before and after". And we don’t know how long it will take to get there. When we were on Zoom last week, my heart ached for you. I can see in your face, even on video, how worried you are.

But here’s what I hope and believe. You have the ability to listen to that voice of worry and anxiety. It’s your body’s way of saying “Hey! Pay attention! There is something important happening here.” And if you listen deeply, underneath the worry is a song. I believe it is the song of your generation that is just starting to rise up. Like the first bird singing before dawn outside my window. And - i can’t help myself here, so bear with me - like Elsa in Frozen II, discovering that the spirit of healing is right there in her heart and soul, so is that song of healing and strength and bravery and visionary power in YOU.

We ARE going to get through this. It’s not going to be easy. But I believe in your strength and your ability to grow wise through this experience. If I had to guess, I would say you will come out of this caring more than ever about Justice and Peace. About how important it is to take care of each other, and love each other. And you will also know, because you’ve lived it, that we are capable of making major change for the sake of others. That it is right and important not to just think about ourselves and our own wellbeing. If you can understand these choices and values now, at your age…. Then you will have what it takes to change the world.

photo of one of the Artemis Pack girls by Anne-Marie Inge

Tara Rubinstein is a is a writer, educator and mother. She has created and/or supervised programs for adolescents that support LGBTQ identity, drag performance; spirituality, anti-racism, mythology and magic, community building, sexual wellness and body positivity. She also teaches feminist, earth-based spirituality classes for adults. This letter was written to the members of Artemis Pack, which Tara affectionately describes as "goddess girl scouts" for 8-13 year olds.

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