Leaving

Yesterday was the last day of term for us, which has meant saying goodbye to a place of unconditional love and spiritual learning, and where M and I have been going for four years. I always imagined we would be there ‘forever’, becoming part of the school and the community, but I had a shock just over a year ago to realise that we wouldn’t be.

There are times when I just seem to ‘know’ things, which defy logical explanations. It usually happens when I just can’t ‘see’ the future of something, for example when pregnant with M and considering car seats, I realised we wouldn’t have the same car – and a different one may have different fixings. I assumed we would sell it since it was over ten years old; however its end was rather more dramatic in a high speed motorway collision in which no one was hurt but the car was written off, three months before M was born. Similarly, there was no reason for me to think we should leave this school, yet I trusted my instinct from a year ago that we might not still be there when M reached school age and made plans in case that proved to be true – I didn’t want to end in a crash again. Because over the past fifteen months, starting before I was even properly aware of it, there have been many small signs that it would be time to leave at the end of this summer term. Both pushes and pulls.

It has been a hard journey at times, and involved much frustration, sadness and soul searching. I haven’t always felt ready to be ‘moved on’, to leave the cosy duvet of love and protection (which I am told is common to all Steiner schools) and take what I have learned out into the ‘real’ world. The last few weeks have seen me being tested in unexpected ways, such as many friends expressing fear about us leaving, and an expectation that we will be back. I don’t know if this is to test my resolve, or is a reflection of my own inner worries; or whether it is more about them and my confidence about leaving is what they themselves need. (Or the reality that sometimes people do come back…) There is also much I shall miss including the other parents and some teachers who have become friends.

Luckily we have been able to make a really positive choice to a wonderful little school in the village that we can walk to, and it just feels right as the next step forwards – although I suspect ‘luck’ doesn’t actually come into it. The universe is giving us what we need next. I keep reminding myself that as with everything in the wheel of the year, there cannot be new beginnings without there being endings, which is what I am acknowledging this week. Soon I will be looking forwards again.

Amidst feeling sad however, I was incredibly touched by a teacher-friend lending me two books to read that she had just been given because she knew I would enjoy them and also would read them before she got to them. How or when I will be able to return them to her I have no idea; for various reasons it will probably be months before I see her again, yet she has trusted me with her own gift. Blessings indeed, and possibly a sign that it won’t be the end but a transmutation into something different and new.

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Unexpected Inspirations

In early May I walked past a poster which read:

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

That was all, no further explanation given.

My immediate thought was wondering who it was referring to, and if there were people who believed there was someone in particular who was all of these things. (Okay it didn’t take me too long to realise that the poster was outside a chapel… I am a Pagan first and not a Christian.)

Then almost straight away a reminder came to me:

“As within, so without. As without, so within.”

Or in other words, the macrocosm is reflected and present in the microcosm and vice versa. What applies to one applies to all, and what is present in the world also applies to me as a tiny part of this world. This is my interpretation as influenced by Rudolf Steiner, slightly different to the more familiar Hermetic phrase “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” which is usually interpreted to mean that our thoughts shape the world outside of us, and in one direction only. Therefore as well as an emotional reflection, I also see the microcosm / macrocosm relationship in a physical way such as the way patterns are repeated on every scale, eg spirals as building blocks of life on every scale, or the dome of the earth reflected in the arch of our feet which in turn reflects our connection to the earth, or the weather reflecting and also influencing our emotions. So if this phrase applies to a microcosm of one person, does it also apply to the macrocosm?

I repeated the original phrase over again in my mind, to myself, – and suddenly thought Wow! What a profound statement! Because I am, or should be, all of those things for myself. I follow my own path, and only I can know the way for myself. I must look within on a regular basis to know that way, no one else can tell me what I should do. I am also my own truth, with my own sense of morals and ethics and what is right for me to do. Others have their own truths, which may be different to mine. And life? Well this is my life. I have chosen it, I own it, and I should live it as fully as I am able. No one else.

The phrase became a personal mantra for a few days, giving me a powerful reminder of just what and who I am – divine, Spirit, Me. I need reminding sometimes. And the real wonder is that it applies equally to everyone.

Life

What is life for? How do we define a good life, or a bad life? How can we judge anyone else’s life, or even our own for that matter while we are living it?

This morning I watched M emptying the clothes from the washing machine into the basket for me, while I cleared away breakfast. She does not find this easy yet, and needed some help to position herself and the basket, but such is her delight in each item she manages to get out of the machine it becomes infectious. In some cases she names the owner of the item, or when it is hers, gives a cry of pleased recognition. I almost wanted a video camera. Then when she had got it all out, she half-carried, half-slid the full basket across the kitchen to me, feeling ever so proud of herself. Finally she climbed onto the tall stool I put by the sink all by herself, so that she could supervise me washing up.

In the eyes of Rudolf Steiner, she is learning about life through doing, and through imitation. She is enjoying helping with jobs I once detested and put off for as long as possible, because I saw them as jobs. I learned some years ago to simply see them as things that need doing, so got on with it. Then when M was small they were an escape to normality, an opportunity to do something worthwhile and productive, and a bit of breathing space! Now I see them as opportunities for enjoyment and sharing. Yet they are the same jobs.

There is much written about spending ‘quality time’ with your children. I confess, I do not know what this means. I do not often ‘play’ with M, because I do not seem to be able to conjure up an imaginary world, and her language development is such that she wouldn’t understand it if I did. So instead I do the things I either want or need to do but find ways for her to join in. When sewing she hands me pins, and has learned not to pull them out until I am sewing the fabric together. She will also play with fabric, or indicate by the actions the song ‘Wind the bobbin up’. And can go off to any of her other ‘toys’ when she gets bored of me. When drawing, she will join me for some of time with her own pencil and paper. When cooking she will stir the soup, or fetch me any ingredient within her reach, or come outside to pick herbs or dig up a leek. She comes shopping with me, and to the library. It is only when I am at the computer that she cannot join me at all, so instead I have constant interruptions for stories or songs. I try to limit my activities to short bursts, which can make me surprisingly productive!

There are many more groups we could join, and sometimes I have found it hard to meet people away from groups because they maintain a full timetable up to the point they return to work. But for us, three mornings a week seems to work well, leaving plenty of time for other activities as well as time to just Be. I don’t want life to pass me by, I want to experience whatever is happening, while it is happening, and enjoy it. Life is what you make of it.