Monday, October 15, 2018

The Mother Of The Cedarsong Way

photo credit Niki Buchan

On Friday morning I sat down to breakfast with my friend Erin Kenny, founder of the internationally renowned forest preschool Cedarsong Nature School. We were together at our hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland where, by a quirk of crossed paths, we have spent much of our face-to-face time, despite the fact that we live only 15 miles apart as the crow flies, she amongst the forests and farms of Vashon Island and me in the urban density of Seattle. On the surface, we could not be more different, but whenever we're together we find ourselves connected through our respective lives' work, teaching and learning from young children.

When Shakespeare wrote "though she be but little, she is fierce," he could have been writing about Erin, a powerful, smart, tireless advocate for children, not just through her first-of-its-kind forest school, but for children around the world. I long admired her from afar and am honored to have gotten to know her as a compatriot and friend over the past couple years.

Erin is sick, having learned that the cancer she has been battling for years is nevertheless progressing quickly. Her doctors tell her she has only three to six more months to live. She is surviving these days on a diet of yogurt and fruit juice as her body is betraying her robust spirit. On this Friday morning, the rest of the participants from the Play Iceland conference scattered, our conversation swung from the physical to the metaphysical. Erin spoke of her son, her community back home, and of the plans she has made for them in the eventuality of her death. She talked of the reports from those who have experienced near death and the light and love they felt there. We also discussed the idea that eternal life is found in the stories people tell about us after we're gone, of which she said, "One of the good things about this is that I'm getting to hear what people will say about me when I'm gone."

They are things that are better said before you are gone, Erin, whether that day comes tomorrow or many decades from now.

sculpture by Einar Jonsson

I love you, Erin. I love who you are and what you have meant to our profession and to the children both in your own backyard and around the world. You have opened my eyes, you have made me think, you have inspired my own practices, and you have single-handedly pushed us all toward the deep understanding that humans, if we are to survive and thrive, must re-connect with one another and with mother nature; that this is the source of everything that is good about humanity. That has been at the center of your message to the world and will be the core of the stories that will make up your eternal life. Your profound influence has been both local and worldwide, with people from all corners of the globe seeking you out, calling out for you, clamoring to learn more about the Cedarsong Way, practices that will continue to spread like ripples from a boot stomped in this mud puddle of a world.

You have touched me not just through your work, but through your being. I will never forget that you reminded me, despite the pain and exhaustion that was exacerbated by our travels, to fill my lungs with Iceland's cold, clean, glacial air as we crossed the tarmac together to board our plane home, nor will I ever be able to sit on a beach without thinking of your poetic description of the black sands and salt air and fresh winds that you found in Iceland. I will always cherish having seen waterfalls and volcanos and oceans with you.

We have cried together, both in sorrow and joy.

You will always be with me in the pure peace of a Northwest forest.

You will never be gone. You live and you will live. I want you to hear this now. I'm honored to be your friend and ally. We have traveled our different roads, but they have brought us to the same place. I want you to hear this now, because now is what we have. All of us will be forever grateful for your magnificent life and work.

You promised me that you would meet us all again. It's a promise to which I will hold you, my dear friend, protector of nature, champion of children, and mother of the Cedarsong Way.

I've just published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share

No comments: