A Message of Thanksgiving from Chautauqua
From President Michael E. Hill
This year has brought challenges unlike any most of us have ever known. There is little about daily life that is not markedly different from a year ago. We are more attuned than ever to our physical and mental health, and to the presence — and absence — of others. Our nation has endured parallel crises of this pandemic, economic struggle, and social upheaval over issues of racism and justice, all taking place against the backdrop of a rancorous presidential election. The list of disruptions and discontinuities goes on and on; you know and feel many of them in your life.
And yet we are called to a ritual of gratitude this week — a pause to acknowledge the fruits of labor, the interconnectedness of our worlds, and the blessings yet to come. I offer my deeply felt thanks to you, our Chautauqua family. Thank you for your continued engagement with and support of Chautauqua’s mission. Thank you for your questions and your good counsel. Thank you for carrying the light of Chautauqua in your home communities.
For keeping the larger society running, thank you to our frontline hospital and nursing staffs and first responders; retail and grocery workers; delivery drivers and public works and transit employees; factory, field and fulfillment center laborers; government and elections officials; teachers and journalists; and families juggling the needs and care of multiple generations. Thank you to our Chautauqua-based businesses and community members for maintaining a safe level of energy and activity on our grounds, and for following regulations and guidelines meant to keep us all healthy.
Thank you, especially, to my incredible Chautauqua Institution colleagues. I took note this week of a remarkable New York Times Magazine interview with our friend Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist and cultural ambassador. In it, he mentions his current understanding of a definition of culture: “Everything that humans have invented that helped us survive and thrive.” Chautauqua itself is our collective invention, and it is thanks to the ingenuity, commitment and drive of the Institution’s staff and community members that we have positioned our mission to survive and thrive well beyond this crisis — and to bring an increasingly large and diverse audience with us.
Thank you, all of you, for all you contribute to our shared invention.
I hope these coming days offer feelings of togetherness, belonging and home — even if through unconventional means. For those who find themselves outside of a warm circle this Thanksgiving, know you are in the thoughts and prayers of your Chautauqua family. As we sing at the close of each summer assembly, God be with you ’til we meet again.
All my best,
Michael E. Hill
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