The Peace of Wild ThingsWendell Berry When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Once again, we have had the unfortunate experience this week of needing to face the heartbreaking news of another manifestation of gun violence in our country. Our hearts are with all of the families affected by this tragedy and with the entire Covenant community and the City of Nashville as they respond and grieve this terrible loss. When tragedy strikes, it is natural that we reel with a range of emotions as we try to find sense in the randomness of the location, the intensity of the rage and the lack of humanity inherent in this epidemic of senseless aggression against the innocent. What do we and don’t we have control over? What can we change? Parents and educators are especially impacted as we greet our children cheerfully each day, pledging ourselves to their well-being, navigating the spring season—a time that should feel light and full of renewal. We spend our days contemplating their future and the future of our country. Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School (HVS) is committed to supporting our students; our school is rooted in the meaningful relationships we form with them and with each other, and we do our best to read the mood and needs of the class. We also have our school counselor, Nina Pick, available to check in with children and with faculty who are in need of additional support. The topic of school safety has been one of our foci these past few years. HVS had a School Safety Committee, and a School Emergency Plan was developed out of these meetings and in collaboration and consultation with our local Sheriff’s office, other area schools and the rest of the HVA organization. Like other schools in New York State, we perform 12 mandated safety drills each year—8 are outside drills and 4 are inside drills. We have finished our required outside drills and will begin with the inside ones this Spring. A key element of all safety drills is practicing keeping quiet and attentive, listening to one’s teachers and staying calm. These are qualities that we practice throughout each and every day as well, not just during drills. The forms in place around lining up, walking quietly in halls, standing calmly each morning before verse and moving as a group are all working the habit body of our class groups, and helping students practice focus and group belonging. Another topic upon which we have devoted time and focus this year in our faculty meeting has been the more general wellbeing our student’s in their physical, emotional, soul and spirit bodies. We are working daily to keep our students’ senses engaged and aware, we are helping to make them feel good in their bodies and in their social relationships, and we are striving each day to counteract the forces of cynicism and apathy so prevalent in our greater society. It might seem unrelated to the larger topic of school safety, but our arts and music programming also plays its role in the well-being of our community. Every connection we build with all that is true, beautiful and good in the world impacts the mental, physical and spiritual health of our children. Our recent conversations about media also play a role in supporting the undercurrent of humanity upon which the future of our society depends. Our event last week on supporting our students’ mental health also is part of these efforts. Finally, it is key that we develop in our students a sense for civic responsibility. This is a topic we are taking up with greater intention throughout the grade levels of the school. We hope to help support our students to feel empowered to be connected to their communities, their country and to elections that might bring some of the changes into effect that could support more safety in our country. Each time we reach out in relationship with others, we strengthen our sense of humanity and participate in the changes upon which our society’s future depends. We had the pleasure of gathering together as a community and listening to the children perform at our annual Spring Assembly. Through music and movement and clear speech they are finding themselves and their place in the world. It is a momentous sight to behold the fleeting journey through childhood from Grade 1 through Grade 12. We look forward to strengthening our connections and continuing the conversation of how we might best support our students and our community. Written by Karin Almquist, School Director