As the days grow darker and we settle into the winter season, I find myself looking inward and spending time in quiet reflection. With the sun going down so early, and the weather being so cold, I have not been motivated to go for my typical daily walks along the river, but instead have been spending time reading, cleaning closets, and learning more about the mindfulness practice of Zentangle. Our theme for this time of the year, “The Spirit Within,” seems particularly fitting this week.
On January 2, when students were enjoying the final days of their winter vacation, teachers were treated to a “Zentangle” workshop as a small part of their professional development plans for the day. Zentangle is the process of creating beautiful images through the use of repetitive shapes or patterns, and is designed as tool for developing mindfulness. Students and teachers alike can practice this discipline as they explore this month’s theme. On their website, the founders of the art form state, “We believe that life is an art form and that our Zentangle Method is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.” (For more about Zentangle, visit their website: www.zentangle.com
) Since returning to school, teachers have introduced this practice of mindful doodling to their students and wonderful black and white images are beginning to surface throughout the building. (The picture that accompanies this post is the result of our workshop. Each teacher created a Zentangle on a puzzle piece and we put our pieces together as a symbol of our community.)
“The Spirit Within” theme kicked off with a wonderful affirmation: “My conscience guides me to make good choices.” Teachers and students have been engaged in rich and meaningful discussions about what this means, and even our youngest students have been able to offer valuable insights about the topic. When asked for thoughts about our conscience, one Kindergarten student said, “Your conscience is when your heart speaks to your brain.” What wisdom resides within even our youngest friends! Providing opportunities for students to talk about such things as our spirit within, our conscience, and the importance of being true to oneself and others, is part of what makes All Saints such a unique and special place. I was especially touched when two teachers shared their stories in our Spirituality Assembly about a time in their lives when they did not listen to their conscience and paid the price – feelings of physical discomfort, anxiety and self-loathing that could not be dispelled until the truth was told, the penance paid, and the situation made right. During both of these stories, each and every child was transfixed on the details of the stories as they unfolded, and were no doubt surprised to learn that their teachers, too, were once children who made mistakes.
I wanted to end my musing this week by sharing this week’s assembly reading, as it speaks to the complexity and irony of the human condition – we tend to forget that our spirit within has so much to offer us in the way of guidance and feedback, if only we make time and space to listen.
Creation - A Sioux Indian Story
The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, "I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality."
The eagle said, "Give it to me, I will take it to the moon."
The Creator said, "No. One day they will go there and find it."
The salmon said, "I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean."
"No. They will go there, too."
The buffalo said, "I will bury it on the Great Plains."
The Creator said, "They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there."
Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, "Put it inside of them."
And the Creator said, "It is done."