Welcome Friends to our new newsletter. What’s new? It is much shorter as we have taken parts of what always made it so long and distributed it into other venues spread out through the year. The newsletter is now primarily a gathering of inspiring articles, a story about a featured Representative, and a few juicy announcements from the community. With this change, I encourage you to read it cover to cover over the coming days.
With Truth as our theme, we come to the end of our trilogy. Shanah’s article on The Mysterious Nature of Goodness, Beauty and Truth wraps the three together in a surprising way and also offers us a picture of the transformational power of self-examination and of forgiveness, a theme I would like for us to explore further.
After reading all the articles, I wanted to write an enthusiastic endorsement of each one of them. What a unique gathering of ideas we have here! However, since my letter is a bit long, and I want you to read the whole newsletter, let me simply suggest you print it out and put it in your “reading spot” to relish over days or fix yourself a nice warm drink, curl up in your favorite chair and simply power through. Some articles will delight you; some will insight you (I just made that up); and all will invite you to ponder. Let us know what you think.
The topic of truth also showed up in our recent Board study from a Steiner lecture series called The Spiritual Foundation of Morality. It was amazing to realize this lecture was offered 107 years ago yet sounds so relevant to today. Here is a brief excerpt on truthfulness: “I ask you, do people still feel anything today when they read something in a newspaper or somewhere else and then learn later that what they had read simply wasn’t true? I ask you to ponder this seriously. Untruthfulness has become a trait of our present cultural epoch, wherever modern life extends.” And he goes on to say, “People must increasingly learn to come to the point where they know whether what they assert really happened. They will learn that one is obliged, not merely to say what one believes is correct, but to say only what ones knows to be true and correct. In other words, one may say or report something only after one has felt and acted on the obligation to test with all the means at one’s disposal whether it is actually so. Only when one accepts this obligation, can truthfulness be experienced as moral impulse.”
This is definitely a clarion call to our culture, and we might ask ourselves how can I be so vigilant in exploring truth and have room left over for joy and wonder? Perhaps one answer to that was also in our Board study where Steiner invokes us to take real interest in each individual and experience we encounter. In this way we learn to love. Perhaps love, laced with a bit of inner stillness, can set us on our way toward truthfulness.
This is an extra poignant newsletter for me as we celebrate the crossing of two close colleagues, Joan Almon and Rena Osmer, shining lights in the world of Steiner early childhood education and significant contributors to the history of LifeWays. There is also a sweet irony that it is an autumn newsletter, as many of my dearest colleagues and friends are, along with me, in our autumnal stage of life. In a recent Brain Pickings article by Maria Popova she invokes us to consider the following about autumn: “ . . .perhaps, between its falling leaves and fading light, it is not a movement toward gain or loss but an invitation to attentive stillness and absolute presence, reminding us to cherish the beauty of life not despite its perishability but precisely because of it; because the impermanence of things — of seasons and lifetimes and galaxies and loves — is what confers preciousness and sweetness upon them.”
While this image (from Trees at Night, 1926) represents my sorrow,
this one (by Margaret C. Cook in a rare 1913 edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass) represents the beauty of celebrating transcendence. The crescent moon has always been my favorite, especially at harvest time when it glows orange. As it trims down to nothing but a sliver, it is as if it holds the condensed fullness of a life well-lived.
While you can read about Joan in the link Michaeleen provided from an earlier LifeWays post, I will offer a tribute to Rena at the end of this newsletter. She always represented the beauty of transcendence to me.
Thank you, friends, for your lives as you offer your own goodness, beauty and truth to the children and families in your care. Please know that it does make a difference.
With loving gratitude,