This day marked the closing of a 3 year journey – one that for me extended my 1 year masters degree at Schumacher College into 4 wonderful and formative years.
At the end of the first year at Schumacher I remember reflecting that it had been an education true to the original meaning of university, which according to Matthew Fox, is a place to explore our relationship to the universe. Although Wild Wisdom School is not (yet) a university officially, it certainly is a university according to this original meaning. Our teacher – Sam Wernham – is a fantastic scholar and mystic who weaves together these two approaches to offer a way of studying that is packed with aliveness. If this were the education offered in mainstream institutions we would have a very wise society indeed. We can dream…
Back to the here and now (or rather to 3 weeks ago) – the day after its final study day, Wild Wisdom School celebrated its graduation day! Except we called it our community day – a day to celebrate our community and to honour the great journey we’ve taken together. If it were a traditional graduation day, we’d perhaps be wearing classic graduation hats and gowns and carrying important scrolls in hand. Clearly, this was not what our day looked like. Rather think summer hats, prosecco and a great big feast put on by Jan and Henry, who were our incredibly generous hosts for the day.
We did however have a ceremony – but forget long speeches and sore bottoms, and think instead a circle of joyful people on the grass around a fire pit. This is the basis of the Wild Wisdom collaborative ceremonies, which in the last year have very justly earned the title “ramshackle rituals”. Poems, songs, music, dance and a story weaved together the threads of our wisdom journey, and together we marked this ending and new beginning.
My contribution to our ramshackle ritual was the classic Mary Oliver poem ‘Wild Geese’. Her words speak to me of what our Wild Wisdom community is…
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
So, on I go to new pastures. The ending of Wild Wisdom School marks the ending of my journey in Devon, and the beginning of a new life in Scotland. I am so grateful for this incredible journey, and pray that the potent gold of the Wild Wisdom vessel travels far and wide – to energise spirits, engage minds and awaken hearts – and to remember our embodied belonging to the family of all things.
Who knows, maybe one day it really will have a graduation day with gowns an’ all.
Writing and photos by Beth.