So let us plant dates, even though~ Rubem Alvez
we who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret of discipline.
Dear Springhouse community,
I hope this finds you well. Autumn in Floyd County is simply glorious and golden.
One of our staff members posted the quote above recently on the Springhouse Slack channel. I was so moved by it, I deleted what I wrote for the newsletter this month and wrote what follows. I believe these words written by the Brazilian liberation theologian, Rubem Alvez, are exactly what we need to hear right now. These words spoke deeply to me and to our collective work at Springhouse.
The work that is needed now is long-term. The ego wants quick results. What is needed now is not quick. It is deep, ancient, and long-term. I am talking about generations and generations. When I show up at Springhouse, I am thinking of our great-great-great-grandchildren.
The work that is needed now requires discipline. It requires us to dig deep and find security and sustenance from within. Did you know that the word sustain means “to hold up from below”? The discipline that is needed now is the action that takes us closer to our roots so we can respond to the world from a nourished and true place.
The work that is needed now has everything to do with commitment – to ourselves, to each other, and, most importantly, to a place over time. I have mentored many people over the past 30+ years. Commitment to self, to another, to a place, and to meaningful long-term work is most often the hardest thing for people to practice.
The work that is needed now must move us to love more than what and who we know. It’s a powerful kind of Love known in the love of many mothers, the generosity of the Earth, the power of forgiveness, and the stuff that builds bridges, not more division. It is what Love really is and has the power to move us toward difference and what we fear.
How do we plant what we will never eat? How do we plan and work toward what we will never see? I cannot think of anything more important right now than to plant seeds of love that we won’t see. They may remain buried for a very long time in a dominant culture that focuses on the separation and individual success at the cost of community and connection. Any theology, any school curriculum, anything that plants seeds for the future must have the courage to drop what does not work anymore and move toward what might. Even if we don’t know the way, even if there is no data and not a lot of support, even if we are mocked or resisted, we must create examples of what is possible.
There is nothing more important to address than the fact that all life is not thriving, including that of the Earth. For those of us in a position of comfort, where it is easier for us to forget this fact, it is important to make an effort to remember. Regularly. As the author Audre Lorde wrote, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” We must work toward life and liberation for all and not give up until that freedom is the norm.
Our educational approach prioritizes thriving by strengthening identity through holistic developmental support; by becoming more familiar with our cultural context and how we got here; and by studying what’s possible – how Life works through the Earth, the power of Love through our elders, and the wisdom of limitations through better understanding our natural constraints. A chapbook will be coming out this winter about our educational approach. I am more confident than ever that our curriculum plants seeds of love that we won’t see. After she read it, one of our mentors in cultural design recently said, “I am inspired, and I want to help you share this with many others who I think will be, too.” I am excited to share it with you soon. Until then, my book remains available – it is about how we created Springhouse and support others to create thriving communities where they are.
We are in a time of crisis within which there is great possibility. Thank you to those who have the courage to create the conditions for all life to thrive, in all the ways that you do. I trust there will be plenty of possibilities for future generations to harvest because of your efforts.
With reverence and care,