November and the earth drinks the refreshing rain, the last glorious festival of blossom tumbles to the ground and for a moment there is balance in nature. How different to Australia where presently destructive fires rage across NSW, devouring all in their path.
Friends write that for weeks their bags have been packed and in their cars, ready at any moment to depart. There is something merciless in the power of these fires, it is as if nature is forcing human beings to wake up. What does it take to realise that all is connected, that we cannot work in isolation, we human beings are creators and destroyers.
I am reminded of an excerpt from ‘A Sleep of Prisoners’ Christopher Fry:
The human heart can go to the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul man ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
Is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake,
Bit will you wake for pity’s sake?
The fires are destructive and for many life-changing, as is the loss of life or health, the illnesses that people face, the social challenges, for many the stress of daily life. Life is not easy, but how much more challenging for those whose exploration doesn’t extend beyond the material world. Anthroposophy offers many gifts; through it we can become conscious that our very existence on earth has a deep relationship with the cosmos, we can be grateful to the beings of creation and those who guide and support us.
On one level, these thoughts give comfort, but a passing interest in the world or accumulating spiritual ideas are no longer enough. Greta Thunberg has become a symbol of the call for change. No matter what we think of her ideas, and many will agree with her, it is her passion and far-reaching commitment that touches many. That the world evolves and doesn’t devolve, we need daily to bring knowledge gleaned from the spiritual science into practice. Bringing thoughts of the spiritual world into daily life builds the connections and breaks the isolation. Good thoughts have an effect.
Reports from this year’s Anthroposophical Society Conference in Christchurch indicate that bringing ideas into practice was very much what guest speaker Nicanor Perlas strove to bring. For those who weren’t able to attend, the reports in Scope will give you a good taste of the conference.
Recently we had an exciting piece of news, Gerald Häfner, another person who in striving to bring change, has immersed himself in the political world, and has offered to visit New Zealand early next year. Presently he is the Leader of the Social Science Section at the Goetheanum in Switzerland (sozial.goetheanum.org). He studied Waldorf education, was one of the founders of the Green Party in Germany and party Chairman in Bavaria, a MP in the Bundestag (German Parliament, 1987-90, 94-98, 2001-02) and a MEP in the European Parliament 2009-14. He is also the co-founder of ‘Mehr Demokratie’ (mehr-demokratie.de), a successful grass roots organisation that started in Germany and has now spread all over the globe – and of other NGOs like Petra-Kelly-Stiftung (petrakellystiftung.de), Stiftung Aufarbeitung (bundesstiftung-aufarbeitung.de) and Democracy International (democracy-international.org). He covers topics such as climate change, social inequality, threats to democracy and human rights, with a contemporary approach. The council agrees that Gerald’s visit is an opportunity not to be missed, however meeting his travel expenses requires a reforecast of the budget. The council will be in contact with the various centres as soon as we have confirmed dates.
In the meantime, across the Tasman, the first year of the Pacifica Eurythmy training has come to a close. Six students successfully completed the year. Next year will see a second group commence their training. Eurythmy, when rightly understood, is a subject of and for the future. It takes enthusiasm and courage to step into the world with such a young, and relatively unexplored profession, and these students have both. We look forward to the day New Zealanders join the training.
As I close this report, I first turn my thoughts back to three wonderful women and members who died in recent months: Anna Bergman, Mariel Rosalind and Marie Buchler. Each gave significant contributions to life and the Society; each will be remembered for the special qualities that they shared with others, and their deeds will continue to work on into the future for the good. The world has been blessed by their presence.
I began this article reflecting on the destructive nature of the fires in Australia and in closing I think of the creative power of birth. From the ashes new life will arise and it’s wonderful to contemplate the mystery of life, a reality we cannot grasp with our senses, but intuit how new life is ignited by the spirit.
I wish all a blessed Christmas and much strength for the New Year.