The Season of Courage
Of all the seasons and festivals, the arrival of fall and celebration of Michaelmas is my favorite. My body, heart, and mind are ready for a respite from the warm summer sun and seemingly endless activities. I long to slow down, curl up with a book and a blanket, and retreat to that inner place of reflection, where courageous thoughts are quietly stirring.
Just what do we mean by courage? In our traditional Michaelmas enactment, it’s lowly George, persevering against all odds to successfully slay the dragon. Modern day images often include the bestowal of honors or public acclaim for bravery. These outward expressions of fortitude surely mark one form of courage — but that narrow definition limits the courageous to a small circle of heroes and champions. The capacity for courage extends to all of us, and I’d offer is a fundamental value in our Waldorf community. The opportunity to foster a love of learning, a joyful spirit, and a courageous heart in every child inspires us daily.
Borrowing from writer and poet David Whyte, “Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about…To be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.”
I love the phrase, “to stay close to the way we are made.” We all know what that place feels like. It’s where our values and beliefs, our heart’s longings, and our truest sense of self intersect. It’s that space we yearn to live in and from with consistency and commitment. This place of courage and integrity often opens its doors when we step away from the distractions of our world, and step into the solitude of our soul. That is the gift of Michaelmas and the time of darkness — it brings us closer to who we are and the way we are made.
Choosing Seattle Waldorf School for your child and embracing the opportunity to be part of this community take courage. Our values and practices are uniquely different, rooted firmly in both research and beliefs about how children develop and how to prepare them to go into the world. I sometimes joke that our tagline could be “Waldorf education — it’s not for everyone.” But I say that with seriousness also. Waldorf education is most powerful when it brings our children and our selves closer to the way we are made, to that place of integrity and internal alignment with what we care most about.
May the coming months offer opportunities to be courageous in ways and places that are meaningful to all of us.
Blessings of the season,
Published in the Chalkboard from 10.5.16.