When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.~ Rudolf Bahro
Dear Springhouse community,
I spend my days with adults who are willing to be insecure to create something new. The Springhouse staff inspire me. The teens who get to spend time with these adults are so fortunate, and the beauty is, our teens know that. The Springhouse staff are honest, committed to something over the long term, hilarious, imaginative, experimental, dedicated to their own personal growth, and willing to be vulnerable and very human. Springhouse would not be what it is without them. You can learn more about each of them here.
We live in a world where all life is not thriving and where most of us fear change. We hold on to what is outside of us, hoping it will bring us the lasting security and guarantees we long for. The problem is, that in my humble opinion, holding onto what is outside of us won’t ultimately bring us the refuge we hope for. Change is constant and all things pass away; including our own bodies. Because all things are impermanent, does not mean we don’t care for and respect Life in all its forms. Life is a gift and it is up to us to take care of it, but to orient our lives around what is outside of us, is ultimately not a great strategy for living.
If we are to live in a world where all life thrives, we must change, and change is vulnerable. Change makes many of us feel insecure. I have learned over many years that when I am insecure, I must go inward to find my strength. I find something there that I cannot find outside of me. This does not make me an island, or isolated, and has nothing to do with perfection. Many people and places have helped me find my way back to the strength within, and I serve and love many around me from that strength. What I have found to be true, from my experience, is that the more connected I am to myself, the more connected I am to the world around me. Learning to be with my insecurity was the first step, and in that insecurity or vulnerability, I found my power, creativity, imagination, and connection to others.
In the quote above, Rudolf Bahro, an Eastern European dissident and philosopher says “a few people” must be willing to be insecure. I spend my days with more than a few adults who are willing to find their strength in insecurity, and love the world more strongly and creatively from that vulnerable place. Each day, they are willing to join together, and move toward an audacious vision of creating a culture that takes care of Life.
School can be a place where we learn how to be vulnerable and of service. Education is how we create culture, and can be the way that we learn how to be insecure so that we can reimagine our lives and the world we live in. The adults matter in a community; our young people learn from how adults live. To better get to know the adults who spend many hours with our teens each week, I will leave you with some specifics about these beautiful people. Just being with them is a teaching and these are just a few reasons is why:
- Roxanne loves flowers and plants and she grows little sprouts of things all of the time. Every time I see a beautiful flower, I text it to Roxanne. In return, Roxanne texts me flowers. We call each other flower friends. Roxanne also cares very much for the human body and supports us all in living more deeply into our humanity.
- Chris loves to sing. When Chris stands in the middle of the shape note singing square, he beams and belts out lyrics that inspire us all. He recently led us as a school community in singing with people who came to visit us who were formerly incarcerated–people seeking justice and liberation in a culture where that is hard to come by. It was powerful, and when I looked at his face as we sang in our local nursing facility this month, the light that poured through him was a gift to the residents who dearly needed that light.
- Sarah Stabler can do several complex things at once–write grants, mentor teens, lead the Day School, and more. She loves Springhouse, every part of it, and will do anything for it. Sarah loves to dance, and she loves to dance with the teens even more. As the Executive Director, one thing I very much appreciate about Sarah (who is our Associate Director) is that she will be honest with me, even if it is difficult, and she does this in the name of strengthening Springhouse.
- Ian is generous. The first school trip he went on years ago had him up in the middle of the night supporting a very sick student. I will never forget seeing him leave the cabin we were in, all sleeping on the floor in Charleston, SC, and Ian going back and forth cleaning up at 3am. He is wildly creative, his drawings evoke the light in the dark in all kinds of ways and his art is courageous and clear.
- Sarah Pollock is a mystic. I have known her for over ten years. I danced with her on a ship around the world. Sarah illustrates beautiful things like trees with stars on them, a blue heron standing in front of a moon, a candle in a window, and so much more. She is magic and you can see that magic in her eyes. She cares deeply for others, especially the teens she mentors.
- When Carolyn meets new people, her eyes sparkle. She loves community, communion, and communicating. The Latin root “com-” means together. Carolyn stands together, in solidarity, with those who seek justice and liberation. She is fierce and takes care of vulnerability with ease. When an adult at one of our dance retreats was really struggling, Carolyn took this person by the hand and exuded safety from her presence. It was inspiring to witness.
- H Leopold met me at a conference at James Madison University (JMU) where they were studying education. They came straight over to me after I asked a question and spoke about Springhouse. Within a few weeks, they were driving down to Springhouse regularly; eventually driving 3x a week to teach at Springhouse from JMU, a 5 hour round trip drive. They have been with Springhouse almost since the very beginning. Their commitment is unwavering and their gift is teaching.
- Cheryl Utley will not give up. She stays close to what she believes in and she gives it everything she has got. She is honest and can navigate tension and difficulty with great compassion and care. She has a kind heart and deep clarity about what education is for and what school can be. She follows the North star of the Springhouse vision and knows that education creates culture and that we can do better than what we have been doing as a culture.
- Skyler Locke, who is not a staff member but our artist in residence at Springhouse Downtown, is one of the most creative people I know. He is also brave. When he was ten, we were at a concert in town where no one was dancing. I wanted to dance and felt nervous, Skyler looked at me and said, “Let’s go.” A few seconds later it was just Skyler and me on the dance floor. I will never forget it. I cannot wait to see where this young person goes with his life. There is no doubt he will build a vital culture wherever he is- just with his presence. He is also one of the funniest people I know. I told him to save me a front row ticket when he is on Saturday Night Live one day.
The adults in our schools and in our communities matter. Our young people look to them not only for guidance, but for inspiration. It is up to each one of us as adults, to ask ourselves, Is the life we are leading inspiring to the young ones around us? Are we living in ways we hope for in our young people? We can always grow and deepen into more of who we are. Sure it is scary, vulnerable, and there is loads of insecurity. That is life and it is up to us to live it. How else will our young people learn to live their lives fully?
Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey of building culture that takes care of Life in person, community, and place. We appreciate you all, and we trust that you will continue to walk with us, as we head into greater insecurity as we follow our vision of living in a world where all life thrives.
Gratefully and with love,