The Magic of Rainbows, Gratitude, and Shared Dreams
It has been wonderful to return to my work at SWS following my time away. I have appreciated the warm greetings and embraces from colleagues, parents, and students—feeling valued and needed is a significant sentiment for all of us. I will admit that what I was most nervous about was how to respond to the question that everyone would ask: “So how was your trip?”
I can’t begin to capture or share the experience in this message, or even a coffee date. 30 days of walking and living by nature’s daily rhythms; 600 miles of rolling hills, sheep, olive groves and Spanish pueblos; and hundreds of conversations with pilgrims from around the world offered me a truly extraordinary gift of time and space for reflection. What I can share are a few thoughts that I am carrying with me as my journey continues back in Seattle.
While I did not have a single day of rain (so fortunate!) there was a morning of clouds that threatened precipitation. I made a long, steady climb to the top of a hill, and came to a standstill. On the horizon—with nothing nearby—I saw a small church, with a rainbow extending from its spire. The beauty of this stark, simple portrait in nature took my breath away. I stood for some time, just taking in the view and reveling in the wonder of a rainbow.
Later that evening I thought back to that moment. Why was I so moved by this image? I have seen beautiful rainbows spanning Lake Washington from the steps of our high school campus. The difference is that I don’t stop in my tracks and take the time to really look, appreciate, and experience the awe of nature. What might my life be like if I were to slow down and be open to what is happening in the moment?
One evening as the sun was setting I went to a (the only) café for dinner. An older, weathered, and tired-looking man warmly greeted me, and carefully set a place for me on the patio. He attentively brought my meal, and when I was done, I picked up my dishes and carried them inside, hoping to make his closing up shop easier. He came around from behind the bar, took both of my hands in his, looked deeply into my eyes, and said, “Gracias.” One word. I was overwhelmed by his expression of true gratitude, for a gesture that to me seemed so small and easy. That exchange, with someone I did not know, and will never see again, was a poignant reminder of the power of gratitude and giving to others.
Lastly, I shared an evening meal with two dozen pilgrims at Albergue Verde. Mincho, our host, took a few moments to explain the vision that led to his creation of this oasis of vegetable gardens, communal-cooked meals, and meditation spaces, all supported by “donativo.” In his words, if people share a dream—in this instance, nurturing a sanctuary of healthy living and loving relationships among pilgrims on the Camino—and invite others to share and invest in their dream, magic happens. Gardens are planted and harvested, meals prepared, a new yoga platform constructed. It is about the dream and the why, not the how. It is about having a dream and inviting others to join you. Experiencing the feeling of community and connection that he and others who have found their way to Albergue Verde have created, I felt the magic, and couldn’t help but think for a moment about our community, our dreams, and our magic together.
I hope that we all experience the magic of rainbows, gratitude, and shared dreams in the year ahead.
-Tracy Bennett, Head of School