Nature, the Greatest Teacher
සොදුරු සොභා දහම, මිනිසාගේ ශ්රේෂ්ඨතම ආධ්යාත්මික ගුරුවරයා
While working as a Grade 1 Waldorf teacher in a Rudolf Steiner school in Gloucester, England a few years ago, I would spend time at the end of the day, either digging in my vegetable garden or sitting in my workshop planning the next day’s lessons.
While in the garden I was often joined by a Robin, a small British bird familiar in our gardens as ‘Robin redbreast’, cheeky, sharp eyed and seemingly very intelligent, a real friend of man. Watchful of grubs and worms thrown up by the digging, it wasn’t long before he turned his attention to the cookie crumbs that fell from me as I took a coffee break. Soon he was feeding from my hand. Fearless and knowing, he joined my times of presence, perched on the handle of the garden fork.
One day, I ignored the garden, needing to work on my preparations for the next day. An important aspect of Waldorf teaching is the inspiration that one seeks both with and without the children. With the right attitude or mood, I found I could tap into a creative flow that sometimes delightfully brought together different aspects of a subject and the particular needs of the children.
However on this particular day, I was struggling, trying to push my brain to come up with the right ideas as I sat in the workshop with door open. Soon I fell into a day dream, absent from the thought of the children, the breezes that blew around me and the beautiful view outside my window.
Suddenly, I was awoken with a start by a fluttering in my hair and I briefly felt the tender scratch of a small creatures’ claws on my scalp. Then with a further flutter of wings my friend, the Robin, flew down from my head and perched on the edge of my coffee mug, not more than a foot from my sleepy head. It tilted its head to look up at me with those bright intense eyes and suddenly I was gripped by its gaze and felt, I am sure, its telepathic message- “Wake up! You’re sleeping! Share Presence with me. Presence is what you need.”
The Robin, as an emissary of the natural world, had tuned into my consciousness (or lack of) and almost demanded I join him, in the Now. Perfect attention and stillness flowed from him to me. Wonderful! It wasn’t long before this awakening led to a flow of creative energy and the ideas and inspiration fell upon the paper, like the cookie crumbs in the garden.
The children loved the story. In their early years they are naturally close to nature. Nature, like the children is a great healer and teacher if we are awake to the many messages that come to us.
Eckhart says, “You need nature as your teacher to help you reconnect with Being. But not only do you need nature, it also needs you.” (Stillness Speaks 84)
I soon re-discovered something else: the more attention or awareness I give to the practice of presence in every aspect of my life, and the more value I attach to stillness or presence, the more I experience times of spontaneous stillness or presence, just as the Robin in the garden. So I find that I am ‘visited’ by a spontaneous presence, again and again. I used to think in terms of ‘making an effort’ with my practice, but Eckhart has taught me to value presence from the heart.