The healthy social life is found
When in the mirror of each human soul
The whole community finds its reflection
And when in the community
The virtue of each person is living.

~ Rudolf Steiner


November 11, 2016

Dear Friends,

Last evening, I was moved by the beauty, sense of wonder, and reverential mood created by the Early Childhood and Lower School Teachers for the Martinmas Pageant and Lantern Walk. To experience the school yard and wooded pathways illuminated by scores of candles, and to witness the inner light of the children as they performed in verse and song a story of selfless giving to one in need, was the healing balm I longed for. I am very grateful to live and work in a community of mindful individuals who strive every day to co-create a learning environment that invites and encourages us to see the virtue living in each person.

The election of 2016 and the protracted campaign leading up to it was fraught with vitriol and invective that sunk to an unprecedented level of incivility and mean spiritedness. The outcome of the election left at least 50% of the population in a state of disbelief and anxiety. Similar feelings would have afflicted the other half of the electorate had the opposing candidate prevailed. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, this election has exposed deep divisions that exist in our country and, indeed, throughout the world at this time. The challenge and uncertainty of how to meet this phenomenon and the extreme antisocial forces unleashed is a source of angst for many and, indeed, should concern us all. This is especially true in the context of a learning community where we are entrusted with the well being of the children and young people in our care who look to us for stability.

In grade twelve economics, we have been discussing the concept of resilience. We questioned whether cultivating resilience within our individual self is a pre-condition to building resilient communities, economies, and societies. In order to develop and empower, one’s own agency requires that one can come into relationship with one’s true self and sense of purpose. One available path of initiation into knowing oneself is through relationships and through community.

As I stand before twelfth grade students each morning, I know that I am privileged to be witnessing the emergence of each one’s innate gifts coming into being. I feel the immensity of the responsibility we all share in creating the conditions for this emergence to unfold in its truest expression, so that each young person can respond to their own inner calling with confidence and fulfill their task in this life. Waldorf Education attends to this by cultivating open minds, open hearts, and open will to do good work in the world.

Each day I have to ask myself are my words and deeds patterning behavior that will ultimately be helpful to the students on their learning journey? I believe that together we can and must provide a safe and civil environment in which our children can learn and grow. As parents, teachers, colleagues, and friends, we can validate for our children, and each other, the significance of being fully present in every human encounter, and exhibit care, deep listening, and genuine warmth of interest in service to a healthy social life for all.

With love and gratitude,

Martin Ping
Executive Director
Hawthorne Valley Association