I am reading a National Geographic Article about the Ecuadorian Yasuni rainforest– home to one of the highest number of species and greatest bio-diversity in the world – And also, sadly, enormous oil reserves. The government, realizing the global treasure of the rainforest, has asked the world at large for 3.6 billion USD for it to forego extraction of oil. This figure is equivalent to about half of what they would make were they to drill. My husband reading with me declared that the oil will be extracted, and that the life in the forest would pay the price – it has happened so many times before.
This is not a piece on the realism or pessimism of my husband, it is a piece to share my horror that there is even still a question of which way this could go. It makes me wonder at the presence of our hearts in our every day, the presence of our humanity in our decisions, and the presence of our sense of the sacred as we live our lives.
It seems to me that we must have lost the touch with these in the mechanical, soulless systems that we have co-created to live our lives as a global community of humans. I return in my disbelief to the power of money: To run us, to make our decisions. As I return to the story of the Yasuni rainforest, it is with a sense of impotence and infinite sadness.
Today I visited a small school that I am a part of making happen. It has a kindergarten that has been going for a year, and since a week a small class one of seven children who are beginning their life of ‘formal’ learning there. As a school it has a slightly different emphasis to most mainstream schools. The children are there to be supported in learning how to be themselves. To connect with and express their lifeforce in this world. They will learn it whilst learning how to read and write and learn the things that we deem to be important content-wise in our society today, but its fundamental intention is different.
The reading and writing and everything else they will learn are all tools in their expression of self and life. And really what can be more important? It is based on a premise that some may disagree with: That each of us is born on this planet with a deeper soul purpose. And thus our fundamental intention becomes one of human freedom, to express that which we are here to do. It is a premise which trusts, that as we learn to express our soul’s desire, we are also learning to bring something of value to our world.
Most of the children in the class are so-called farm children. Children who if they were to go to their local farm school would have their trajectory more or less outlined for them – of remaining in poverty, of believing themselves to be at the bottom of the societal hierarchy. This may sound like a harsh judgement, and yet the pass-rate of the local school is 48%, and my experience of so many young people who come through the poorer schools in this country is that their creative spark and sense of drive, has been all but buried. Discipline and ‘respect’ appear to be among the most critical skills for them to learn, keeping them firmly in ‘their place.’.
Today I saw 7 small beautiful children in a classroom filled with love, filled with their work on the wall, filled with play and story, and for me above a sense of possibility. Their ‘farm children’ label fell away – and instead I simply saw 7 bright young children, who might make anything of their lives. They will be in a school, which is about nurturing their sense of humanity, curiosity, imagination, and will. We do not know the future that they will inhabit, and so don’t know the content, which will most serve them there. However supporting them to expand their innate capacity for learning, and for being present in this world, will surely serve us all. Our work thus becomes to support them to grow more fully into themselves, in a world, which oftentimes does not support the presence of free creative thinkers and doers.
Today these 7 children gave me hope. I don’t know which path they will travel, but I know that we are at least allowing them to begin their journey in a way that celebrates them, and invites them into a world that is full of mystery and magic.
And in my heart I must trust that this will – or at the very least can – lead to different choices, and different journeys.
The Ecuadorian President asked for 3.6 billion USD in 2007 to leave untouched an estimated 850 million barrels of oil. By mid-2012, only 200 million had been committed(!). My husband seems to be right – the will to change this trajectory is not present. As I sit in Zimbabwe looking across the world, it may well be that we are too late to save the rainforest in Ecuador. But here we are joining with the many others, who are beginning to work with children to introduce them to a sacred world: To allow them to journey into learning that affirms the sacredness of their bright beings – and the world into which they have been born.
The underlying question, which lives in me, and which we hope to open to our children remains: What do our souls want us to do? The answer, I know, is full of joy and grace and light.
4 thoughts on “What would our souls want us to do?”
Beautiful, Marianne. Thank you!
A beautiful reminder that, even if the best we can do feels too small, it is still the best we can do.
Just last night I went to hear Tony Campolo speak (one of the only famous Christian speakers I still go out of my way to see because he pulls no punches about the importance of social justice and love without expectation of “return on investment”), and he was talking about the book Catcher in the Rye. In the book, the young man (can’t remember his name) has a recurring dream that he is in a field of rye where there are hundreds of children. He discovers that the edge of the field is a steep cliff and children are falling off the edge. He decides that his calling in life is to be a “catcher in the rye”. He can’t catch them all, but he can catch one or two.
That message really resonated with me, and especially with my husband Marcel, who is a teacher in a prison, where he despairs sometimes of making any difference for the men he teaches. After hearing that, he has decided that he too is a catcher in the rye, doing his best to catch one or two.
The school you’re talking about is doing its best to be a catcher in the rye. Thank you.
Thank you Marianne, your message is full of hope for the young attending the Kindergarten. Who knows what vision and leadership could transpire as these free souls grow to adulthood. Thank you for your vision and humanity.
Dear Jenny, what makes me so very excited is that this is a grade 1 class (primary school). Whilst I think that kindergarten is important – if when they leave a magical kindergarten they go to a place simply of discipline and rote learning, then the longterm effect will be limitied. SO having 7 (now 8) young children starting grade 1, and continuing until high school in this school is utterly exciting. And yes it will be challenging perhaps to build and grow the school to go that far with more and more children joining. But we must begin. Without beginnings there can be no journey – and so our journey with these children has begun.
And Heather thank you for your analogy. It does resonate. We spoke for a long time about working with the local primary school so we could change it and help all the children – and we realised that what we can do is to do this really well for these few – at first – and perhaps there will be more. I know it will be a part of a shift at Kufunda of our understanding of both education but also of the beauty and potential of our children.
Watch this space 🙂