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Gratitude

I woke up with a start this morning. Did I forget my alarm? Yes, but thankfully my internal clock was right on time. I got up and started my morning ritual.  By 6:30, I was opening the door to my youngest’s room. I took a moment to watch him sleep, enveloped in a blanket of peace I wish I could guarantee for both my children. For life.

I slip into his bed as I always do and wait as he instinctively sinks into me, moving backwards until we are an imperfect spoon.  I melt into his warmth.  He takes my hand and puts it under his cheek. We stay like that until he is ready to move again.  He is now on his back, but he turns his head so that it rests on mine.  He turns towards me, we are forehead to cheek, finally in a morning embrace. It’s his turn to burrow.  Soon I give him more kisses, get up, and remind him to do the same.  I leave his door open to let more light in and wait until he emerges from his cocoon.  My teenager emerges from his cave as well, rumpled and surly. I counter it with a hug and kiss anyway, then slip in a squeeze. They are my treasures. This is my morning and I have been thanking the heavens for what now feels like a luxury: me, my children, and everyone I love who are all within calling distance.

I cannot forget the woman in Tacloban who lost her husband and six children.  How does that happen? Why? How does one live through that? She found three of them, brought them to a clearing, and covered them with a blanket.  She slept there, next to them, at night. I imagine her body cleaving to them out of habit and yearning. There but not there. I shudder at the thought and look to the heavens with both inexplicable guilt and gratitude that my family is whole. Her husband and three other children were still missing. All she could do in the meantime was wash dishes, perhaps to have a sense of normal, some order, something to do with the hands that used to be able to hold so much.

I think of all the children in all the ravaged places, some suddenly orphaned, others faring better but not by much. I think about them all the time. What are they missing? Can they even feel? Who is holding them, coming to them at night when the inevitable dreams visit? Who is there to see if they need help, what kind and can they give it? Who will give weight to their invisible needs–the deep needs that make us human but are often overlooked or cast aside in emergency situations? The human being is so much more than a body.  Without our essence, our life force, we are just a body. Who tends to the wounds there and are they seeing everything?

Today is Thanksgiving in America, and some of us have adopted the holiday and celebrate at home.  This year, more than any other, I have to say that this particular holiday feels superfluous. Never has gratitude been more present in everyone I’ve seen.

Still, I give particular thanks to Bernd Ruf of Freunde Waldorf and his exceptional and generous team who spent two days teaching us how to do Emergency Pedagogy–healing traumatized survivors using Steiner/Waldorf Pedagogy.  It’s nothing Waldorf moms don’t already know, but it’s everything to be able to put what we know in the context of healing severe trauma.  Their team includes a kinder teacher who can tell stories and provide comfort and a healing rhythm for very little children, a eurythmist who provides curative movement, a team for games, music and other rhythmical movement to ensure that those who are frozen in shock or trauma are brought to life and balance through other senses, a medical doctor who is well-versed not just in providing medication, but other healing therapies, a trained psychologist who helps survivors work through their trauma by showing them a full picture of their life and encouraging them to tell their stories while always bringing them back to the present and into their bodies, and others who make sure that there is support for the children in terms of healthy meals and a good space to heal.

It’s good to know that there are people from our Waldorf Community who specialize in this kind of work and are so generous in sharing what they know so that more and more people are equipped to give this type of care. I don’t like to keep saying that our world will have to face more earthquakes, floods, and other calamities, but denying that is irresponsible. This quality of trauma work will be needed more and more in all parts of the world and everyone doing any kind of therapy for others ought to go through their training.  It is so comprehensive, so simple and yet goes so deep towards bringing people back to themselves, bringing warmth, movement and vitality back to their bodies, feelings and thinking,  so that they can be made whole and stronger, hopeful for a future in which they must still play their part.

This was a last minute workshop organized by RStep with the generosity of OCCI, and I was surprised to find the venue practically overflowing with people. There were more than 85 participants, each one equipping themselves with skills that will heal children and their families for years to come. I am grateful to all of them–from the Freunde group, to the organizers, to my fellow participants.

I’m not very good at taking photos of people, especially when they’re working, so I shall leave this space without and post one if it becomes available.

In the meantime I say thank you. Thank you.  And thank you again.

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