Donella Meadows, author of Thinking in Systems: A Primer, suggests that the best way to create change in a system is to transcend paradigms. She suggests that we “keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms” and recognize that all paradigms are a “tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension” (2008, p. 164). The author writes that when we “listen to the universe” we live from a place of “radical empowerment” (2008, p. 164). Can we surrender to this degree and root our actions in the immense aliveness within?
Margaret Wheatley, in her book Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time, writes “Certainty doesn’t give us stability; it actually creates more chaos. As we stay locked in our position..the things we hoped would stay together fall apart. It’s a traditional paradox expressed in many spiritual traditions: By holding on we destroy what we hope to preserve; by letting go we feel secure in accepting what is” (Wheatley, p. 211). Years ago, I taught Sacred Dance at a Unitarian Youth Conference where sixty young people and a few adults danced together to know themselves and each other more deeply. As the energy of the dance increased, quite suddenly the energy began to dissipate. I began to feel like I had ‘lost control’ and started to doubt myself. People began to chatter and disperse, and, rather than succumb to the fear I was feeling that things were not going as planned, I immediately opened myself to larger wisdom by staying present to what was happening. Walking and breathing, I waited for guidance. As uncertainty crept into me, I stood up on a chair and watched the moving mass of people. Slowly they began to create their own rhythm - feet stomping, hands clapping, voices rising. Then slowly, one by one, they all sank to the floor in the stillness. I could hear them breathing. Some teens were crying. We closed the circle with song and prayer, and then, a young man about twelve years old seated next to me, held my hand and whispered to me, “Thank you.” As Meadows writes “Mastery has less to do with pushing leverage points than it does with strategically, profoundly, madly letting go and dancing with the system” (2008, p. 165). The mission of Springhouse Community School is to reimagine the purpose and practice of education by fostering the holistic development of youth, young adults, and adults. This requires letting go of old paradigms, not getting attached to new ones, and staying present to, and trusting, the wisdom of the moment. With this audacious and bold mission, it is essential that we practice these skills on a daily basis. If you are interested in learning more about our adult programming that focuses on learning these presence-ing skills, click here.