Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm offers birth –3rd grade education and Farm and Forest Summer Camp based on the Waldorf philosophy on a working farm in Essex, NY.
Throwback to the crisp autumn days bathed in golden light…
As Above, So Below
By Jess Wimett
It is now late autumn at Lakeside School. Frost plumage scrawls across the limp grass, the slanted light suspends in the abandoned cobwebs like gossamer prisms, and the earth has the hollow thump of a tight-skinned drum – dormant but not frozen. The old yellow farmhouse, contracting from its sweaty summer expansion, smokes it’s chimney pipe and clenches against the cold.
Absent is the palpable hum of insects, birdsong, whirring tractors, rustling leaves… It is now so utterly quiet that a lone squirrel eating a walnut can be heard from across the play yard. The residual warmth of the summer sun has been leached out by the cold and damp, ceasing the greenery and giving way to empty branches – all horns and thorns. In the cyclical recreation of the mineral and meat of the soil, this is the marrowbone.
But of course, we don’t have to tell your children all of this, because they already know. They have been unconsciously
embodying these subtle shifts, pulling this energy into their own foundation understanding. And they’ve gathered these perspectives in the most holistic of ways ~ from their fingertips, to the tips of their tongues, their senses inform this understanding in a steady stream of communication with the natural world. It is a dynamic interconnectedness, representative of the philosophy, “As above, so below.” As our consciousness develops, it is our greatest task to understand the nature of our being within the greater context of life itself — a proclivity to unite the microcosm with the macrocosm. Our senses are thus the tools by which we go about perceiving this unity, each small contact or observation becoming a brilliant thread knit into the neurological tapestry of awareness.
As our children watch the leaves go from green to gold, perceive birdsong concede to the cawing of crows, smell the change from fecund to frost, or taste the difference between a ripe tomato and ice-cold sap; all of these offer the opportunity to do what Steiner refers to as, “bringing the Soul-Spirit into harmony with the Life-Body.”
This is ultimately the most inherent education that we can endow upon our children — the undiluted opportunity to examine the bonds that govern all things. By affording them little distraction from the clear and pressing discoveries of their senses, we are encouraging within them the gift of harmony. We are creating a sanctuary, gate-keeping against the onslaught of possessions and ideologies, of fear, expectations and mental clutter. Given this opportunity to fully embody these raw connections, our children can inhabit a universe that holds them, arm to atom, with all else in a living, dying, recycling, interminable web.
I have learned so much purely from observing the kids here. The clear-eyed beauty of their perspectives constantly reminds me of what I forgot I knew once, before I filled my head up with clutter. I truly believe that this veneration towards being present will spare our children from a future of grasping for meaning, or a clinging to what is ultimately impermanent. Thus, I am in reverence to an education for my daughter that helps me to hold the busy, buzzing, distracting modern world at bay, as she notes with every cell of her body the falling of a leaf…
“There would be no chance at all of getting to know death if it happened only once. But fortunately, life is nothing but a continuing dance of birth and death, a dance of change. Every time I hear the rush of a mountain stream, or the waves crashing on the shore, or my own heartbeat, I hear the sound of impermanence. These changes, these small deaths, are our living links with death. They are death’s pulses, death’s heartbeat, prompting us to let go of all the things we cling to.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche