Betwixt and Between – Nisha Kaura


We talk a lot about beginnings and endings in schools, in stories and indeed, in life. And it’s easy to understand why. They are simple to comprehend, and precise about what’s occurring at that point in time. There’s a satisfying clarity to declaring that while one year, term or lesson is over, another has just arrived. New starts are exciting and, although reaching the end of some things can be sad, there is at least a definitive full stop to sign post where we are. We turn the page and the next chapter is there, waiting for us to dive in.

But what about those times that do not cleave to the narrative in that way? Those fuzzy, indistinct, in-between times that don’t feel like a beginning or an end, though they may hold the seeds of both?

We return to school after a week’s half term break – a brief hiatus to our busy, productive, joyful time engaged in learning. And whilst this milestone marks the halfway point in the academic year, it feels like we’ve all been betwixt and between for almost two years. Cast your mind back to the spring of 2020, when we were desperate to know when the pandemic would be ‘over’. The journey has not been a straight path, but rather a case of sudden reversals and a snakes-and-ladders feeling of going right back to the beginning, just when you thought you were nearing the end.

However, there’s something to be said for the times that come between one thing and another. They teach us to develop the value of patience, about how much we can take from one moment, and how we can always detect the echoes of the past in the future, no matter how far-off they may seem.

February marked LGBTQ+ History Month – a time to explore how history reverberates in the present, changing the course of gay rights and related civil rights movements. The Abbey’s Equality and Diversity Committee has provided role models, building our understanding and awareness, enabling us to combat prejudice whilst celebrating the achievement of the LGBTQ+ community and making it more visible. Claiming our past, celebrating our present and shaping our future has been moulded by those figures whose lives have been forgotten or ‘straight-washed’ by history.  

In our morning assemblies in the Junior School, we have been reflecting upon the first signs of spring and the timely significance of crocus and snowdrop shoots emerging from the ground. Unless we are knowledgeable about seeds and bulbs, and whilst stormy weather wrestles with the new season’s desire to provide warmer and longer days, it can be difficult for us to predict what they will grow into. No two trees form identical shapes, not every flower is the same colour and – as our Lower One students so expressively reminded us in their spectacular production set in the African savanna – no two animals look the same. Yet each is special in its uniqueness, each has an important role to play in the world. Within our gift is the opportunity to fulfill our potential, no matter our height, gender, skin colour or sexuality.

Above all, is the unquestionable right to seize the gift of authoring our identity, in order to thrive in the present time. And settle in the knowledge that sometimes true beauty isn’t what’s past or what’s to come, but in the moments in between.

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