A Vocation (www.growingfree.co.za)
Last week, I launched my new school. I call it a ‘school’ because it is a place where children will come to learn, but it is unlike any school most of you have known. It is based on the principle of natural learning (also called life learning and unschooling), where children are trusted to learn from their real life experiences and from making their own choices.
I don’t know when the seed for this idea was planted, but in the last few years and months it has grown at such a rapid pace I feel a little dwarfed by my own dream. It is now a real physical space and I’m meeting real children and parents discovering how we will work together. I could have planned for a few more years. I could have found a few more obstacles to stall me. But the need inside me pressed and pressed, and the need I saw around me squeezed and squeezed until the path in front of me narrowed to such an extent that there was only one way to walk forward with sure steps. My gait is sure not because this way is without uncertainty. Indeed, it is shrouded and misty, and the future waits somewhere beyond the bends. But I am guided by a voice deeper than my own, deeper than those of society. I feel called, and finally, after a few years of feet shuffling in the leaves, of head bowed to my own desires, I am responding.
Vocations are in general I believe, linked to what we enjoy, to our passions. But they also carry a heavy weight of responsibility. Vocations are never indulged in for pleasure alone, but to make some important difference in the world, be it in brick-laying or business. So we often feel reluctant to follow our vocations. They demand difficult and uncomfortable transitions, and hard work to stay on the path. They might not bring happiness, but they do usually bring peace, fulfillment, and the cessation of avoidance. Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing* is someone steeped in this kind of peace. It is her vocation to help others find theirs. She does so with integrity and effort. She has a deep respect for the responsibility her gifts carry. They are not hers to use for only her own gain, or to secret away. She is who she is for a purpose.
The energy work Colleen has been performing on me for little over a year has helped clear away doubts and open up channels of strength that were always mine but were hidden. Little by little she has made it clear to me what I am capable of. With the knowledge of my own power came the responsibility to exercise it. Once my eyes were opened, I had to see. And what I see is children being coerced into moulds which don’t fit. They are being asked to bend until they break. And I see how few options are open to the children in our community. Some are bowed beneath the burden of too many expectations. Others are hobbled by the lack of them. Half of all South Africans live in poverty. Their access to education is almost non-existent. They will never read these words or any like them. Their ability to effect change is constrained. You who read this have a world of choices, a depth of privilege that is hard to fathom. And although we are not poor, the problem of poverty is ours to own just the same. How can we slice into the cycle which keeps each generation trapped into the tight circle of possibility handed to them by their parents’ circumstances?
It would be easier for me not to try something new. It would be easier for me to stay quiet and tucked into my own little world. I am just one small person after all. But it is just this truth which has given me the courage to try. Because I was never going to fix the world. All I can ever control is myself. My thoughts, my actions, my intentions. My vocation. We can each only ever do our part. But what if each one of us actually did?
*Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing sponsored this post. She and I made an exchange between us which left us both richer. To engage in the work of your calling book a session with her on 084 603 0604. Through my school Growing Free I offer you a chance to share in such abundance. I am looking for sponsorships for the children of local farm workers to attend our self-directed learning centre. Fees are R800 per month. Please contact me if you would like to join us on this journey (firstname.lastname@example.org).