Transformation and Adulthood: The Emergence of Self

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity,
a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness.
This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom,
the mother of all, natura naturans.
~Thomas Merton

What does it take to step into something new? How do we learn to embrace change and open to possibility? This is a delicate process, as letting go of old ways of being can be disturbing, and unsettling. Out of fear of the unknown, we often simply resort to the comfortable. As adults, we can become more, and more, comfortable with past ways of knowing. The difference with adult learners, it seems, is that we have just had a longer period of time to turn old ideas into patterns of living. Breaking these patterns can be tough as we know, and when they reach the institutional level, within the educational system, religious institutions, or health care facilities, the patterns become like well-oiled machines. It takes a lot to jump off the super highway of the known and step into the unknown. Why would a person even wish to do this? It is the concept of natura naturans, a Latin term from the Middle Ages that means “nature naturing” or “nature doing what nature does.”


Jack, a six-year old boy, was playing in our backyard where a huge yellow poplar tree stands. I looked up at it and said, “Isn’t that amazing? These leaves are so bright and beautiful, and they are dying!” And as Jack sat on the swing, he looked at me and said, “Yep, that’s just what leaves do.” Becoming fully who we are is what we are naturally made for. This wholeness that we are made of is what we came here to live from. It is our birthright. According to Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung, transformation is the emergence of self, where the learning process supports “a deepening awareness of the self, an expansion of one’s consciousness and an engendering of soul” (Mezirow, 1999, p. 25). This framework for self emergence is born from mystical, indigenous, and wisdom teachings, where learning has to do with strengthening the inner self and rooting our actions in that wisdom.


Springhouse Community School offers adult programming for this reason and because raising adolescents is a community effort. As a teen individuates from the parents, the community holds and guides them as they seek self emergence. We offer learning opportunities to adults so that they can learn more about their role in this as well as do the work it takes to lead lives of wholeness not only for themselves but for teens as they work to recover their own.  To learn more about those offers, click here

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