It is said that there is a gift hidden in every event of our lives, nothing could be more true of my arrival at Sunbridge in New York State in November, 2 days before the biggest hurricane the US had seen for many years.
In fact there were quite a few hidden gifts in that time… But probably the most profound was the chance to live for 6 days very simply and humbly… no electricity, no instant access to internet, no light or heat for working late into the night, no grocery store to go to, to pick up a few more things… so many things that I do and take for granted were suddenly unavailable. On the other hand hot water that we are so used to coming unlimited from the tap and gas on the stove top, suddenly became golden gifts, giving an opportunity to be warm and clean and fed.
I had gone to The States to observe at Green Meadow Waldorf School, near New York for one week and for a week of my teacher-training course, but the school was closed due to the power cuts. My days during that first week were spent in an almost retreat like fashion, reading, talking to the friend with whom I was staying, helping him to look after his small children, doing the washing up, walking in nature, eating simple nourishing soups made from seasonal organic vegetables and truly following nature’s rhythms of light and dark, sleeping and waking.
The contrast of this to my usual life struck me so strongly… Here there was a peace and tranquility, I just had to accept this simple way, there was no rushing, no buying, no constant internet activity and no complicated schedules. Instead a contentedness, a BEING.
The second profound gift was that I got to observe a community… A totally different kind of observation than the one I had gone there to do, not one that I would have to write a paper on or would get credit for, but one that would be as great a gift as observing high class teachers in their classrooms. Instead I got to see high class humans living in their community; helping each other, caring for each other, giving of themselves tirelessly for the greater good of their fellow humans…
Information was passed around the community via chance meetings on the pathway, one inventive family hooked up their car battery to power cables and opened their home for people to come to charge their phones and check in with loved ones on the internet to let them know they were safe. Families with stoves and hot water offered their homes to the families with no heat or hot water, in particular one family waiting for the birth of their child. Meals were cooked and shared.
I was reminded again of the contrast of our busy lives and how it is easy to become so wrapped up in our own trappings, needs and desires that we forget about the community around us and how we can be a part of it… I even asked myself what is our community in Dubai? The community at Sunbridge is brought together by a common theme… Steiner, whether it be through the fellowship, the school, the college, the farm, the garden, the clinic, the co-op… it is a large community and a very strong and established one.
Our own Steiner community in Dubai is much smaller, but it is there. A group of friends constitutes a community, a group of people who share a profession, a school, a baby group, a hobby, interests. The surf and paddling club, DOSC spring to mind in Dubai, both forming communities.
So what of these communities and what is their value to us? They are there for support, for friendship, for companionship, they are there for us to be able to extend our purpose on this earth - to be human, to be connected and to make the world a better place for our fellow humans.
Once on the teaching course that second week we were asked what is our aim, our goal as a teacher? What is it? What is the purpose of teaching? It is to show the children what it is to be human, to encourage them to become self-motivated and self-cultivated beings.
Where can we do that? Who are the teachers? Yes at Acaciawood, I can strive to do those things for the children and I do. But we are all humans and we can all share the task. We can all show our own children and each other what it is to be to be self motivated and cultivated. We can all come together in our homes, schools and communities to share the greatest task of humanity… to teach our children what it is to be human.
9 December 2012