A note from the Head of School:
Dear Springhouse community,
For just a few minutes this week I sat in a circle of stillness and silence with Springhouse students and staff. I could hear us fidgeting, shifting uncomfortably in our seats; some of us rested in the quiet. I noticed the speed of my internal landscape in relationship to the slowness we shared as a group. I then heard the voice of Roxanne, Springhouse faculty member and lover of quiet, invite us out of the stillness by saying “It is winter.” She repeated it, then more quiet. Then she asked us, “How do you feel when you hear ‘It is winter’?” Words came forth like “home”, “sadness”, “tranquility”, “rest”, “play”, and “loneliness”.
After the cold winter blast this month, someone posted a photo on social media of an icy, winter scene; snow piled up on a grill on somebody’s back porch. In the comments below someone wrote, “This is why I live in Florida.” Winter is hard. It is understandable that we would want to leave it behind for sunnier, more comfortable, warmer days. All of this got me thinking about things like resiliency and what it means to live a life rooted in wholeness. Whether it is an icy day or a lonely heart, winter (within and without) can be hard to welcome.
Springhouse often feels like the seasons of spring and summer. So much is happening, possibilities and growth abound. Stillness is hard to come by. There is always something to do. I don’t think this preferencing of spring/summer over winter is just at Springhouse. Being, first and foremost with ourselves, is tough. It takes a lot of practice in a culture of doing (and a culture that relates our worth primarily with what we do), to simply BE.
We need skills to navigate winter and I don’t just mean icy roads and snowy, cold days. Winter brings with it stillness, starkness, vulnerability, and even, dare I say it, death. There is not enough space here to talk about what death can teach us. Facing it personally through a life threatening illness has taught me more than almost anything. Both literally and metaphorically, I have found that the more I embrace winter in all its forms, the richer spring and summer are.
At Springhouse, we are creating culture by orienting around sustainable values and practices. Winter, dormancy, death, and stillness are all a part of the whole. Therefore, our curriculum needs to allow for all learners, adolescents and adults alike, to cultivate practices to deepen into all that winter represents. Meditation, bodily awareness, intergenerational learning, exploring death and dying, being of service to elders, slowing down, depth in addition to breadth, must all be included in a well rounded curriculum.
The stillness of winter is upon us. There is less to see as things lie fallow. Much is dormant. We can’t count on the sun to so readily warm us like in summer. The inner fire must be stoked with greater discipline and care. As winter approaches, let us live closer to it so that our young ones fear it less.
With love, Jenny