Category Archives: Musings from Faculty

John Streetz: Teacher, Mentor, and Friend

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Friends,

I am deeply sorry to share the news that John Streetz, former George School teacher, coach, and a most beloved and devoted friend of the community, passed away on Saturday, March 18, 2017 in Oakland, CA.

George School’s first African-American teacher, John was hired in 1950 by Head of School Dick McFeely to teach Chemistry. Over the next sixteen years, John also coached track and cross-country and lived in Orton Dormitory with his family. He had a profound and lasting effect on his students, his colleagues, and the school; he was a legend in his own time.

In addition to his legacy within each of us who knew him, John’s presence will continue to be felt on campus every day. In 2009, several of John’s former students funded the construction of a new faculty home on campus, Streetz House. John and his late wife Jackie were the class sponsors for the Class of 1961 which, on the occasion of their 50th reunion, presented George School with a wonderful gift to the endowment, The John and Jackie Streetz Scholarship Fund. These generous gifts are fitting tributes to John that will support and nurture George School students and faculty for years to come.

I want to share with you an excerpt from the email sent earlier this week by Dick Brown to his 1961 classmates:

We have lost an exceptional person, a man who inspired us, comforted us, and often made us laugh. John was the heart and soul of our class inspiring us with his own accomplishments, challenging us with his intelligence, delighting us with his humor, and always taking pride in our accomplishments. We encourage all classmates to attend the memorial service when it is scheduled. 

With apologies to Eleanor Hoyle:  Quos valde amas numquam vere moriuntur … those who we love deeply never truly die.

As of this writing, there is not yet a date for a memorial service, but we will post new information on this page as it becomes available.

Please join me in holding John’s daughter Pamela ’70 and their family in the Light. I hope that you will share your remembrances and words of comfort here—in this community space dedicated to John Streetz and his remarkable life.

Karen Hallowell

April 20, 2017 editors note:  News of the death of John Streetz in March has left many in the extended George School family mourning the loss of our beloved teacher, coach, colleague, and friend. We will gather to honor John’s memory and celebrate his life at George School on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. in the meetinghouse. All are welcome.

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Sunday in the park with Debbie

by Debbie DiMicco 

Actually it was not in the park, but back in Alsace on a particularly lovely Sunday.  On Sundays in Alsace, everything is closed (which is not the case in the rest of France, but Alsace is a bit “particular” in that way).  It is a day off for most people, and, as the stepson of my host Céline explained to me, Sunday is a day when you do not look at your watch.

Nancy and I were invited to a noon meal at Virginie’s house (Virginie is one of the trip leaders, along with my host Céline Peronet who will be accompanying the group when they arrive at the end of March).  It was a delightful reunion of former trip leaders, many of whom were hosted by Nancy or me on past trips.  We met up with Alain Collange, a now retired but long-time leader of the trip, former GS French teacher and trip leader, Claudie Fischer, past trip leaders Christine Garaud and Benedicte Zirnheld.  We caught up with Hélène Wicquart, who accompanied the exchange back in the 70’s when the group visited GS in August…

After a week of rain, wind, clouds and cold, it was finally sunny.  We took advantage of the beau temps on Virginie’s patio basking in some much desired sunshine and meeting up with old friends and veterans of this storied exchange.

After this day of “repos” the students will return tomorrow to their “stages” for the remainder of the week.

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Religion or Religions Department?

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by Tom Hoopes ’83 Head of Religions Department, Assistant Dean, Coach

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked this famous rhetorical question, and school children for generations have used it as a foil for considering the power and meaning of words and names.

It is a question that we in the Religions Department recently considered in a searching, deliberate process. You may have noticed in the previous sentence that I said “religions,” with an “s” rather than “religion.” If so, good catch. You might be wondering, “what’s the difference?” I am so glad you asked! Allow me to tell a story…

Some years ago I found myself in a hospital bed, having experienced a grave illness which was not diagnosed at first. (They not-so-jokingly called me “the House patient,” referring to Dr. House on TV, who takes the presumably unsolvable cases.) I felt deep, abiding gratitude for the care I was receiving from myriad professionals, including many doctors and nurses as well as the people who took my temperature and blood pressure and changed my IV tubes, the people who brought me food and those who changed my bedding. I was there for two weeks, so people came and went with regularity.

People were consistently friendly to me, and engaged me in light conversation. I decided this was the perfect opportunity for an experiment! Usually the question would come up, “what do you do?” I noticed a pattern emerging. If I said, “I teach religion,” they would politely acknowledge my response, and then gently change the subject or fairly quickly find a way to end the conversation and get on with their work and out the door. By contrast, if I answered with, “I teach world religions,” the response, almost uniformly, sought deeper engagement. People would say, “oh, that sounds interesting, tell me more” or “World Religions was my favorite subject in college” or, “which religions?” The variety of their responses was as diverse as the people.

Given that this was a large, urban hospital, I encountered a full gamut of skin tones and people visibly presenting as members of at least four different religious denominations known to me (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu), and numerous more discovered upon further conversation.

“What is going on here?” I thought to myself. Recognizing my vulnerability to confirmation bias and selection bias, I did my best to control these in the few days I had remaining in the hospital. Upon my discharge, I have continued this experiment in multiple venues for the last several years, with complete strangers at baseball games, weddings, shopping malls, parties, and anywhere else I may go. My results in the hospital have been replicated with extraordinary fidelity.

What I have determined is that the statement, “I teach religion” was consistently getting interpreted as a statement of my efforts to promote one doctrine or dogma at the exclusion of others, and many people find it to be a conversation stopper.

So do I. And so does George School. Our work in the Religions Department is to create a safe, stimulating and open context for students from all backgrounds to try and make sense of the dizzying array of knowledge claims they encounter on a regular basis in their lives. Learning about some of the major religious traditions of the world—including their symbols, practices, rituals and representations of the divine—is a wonderful portal into the discipline of becoming a world citizen. Alongside the rest of a George School education, courses in the Religions Department help our students to learn about their world and themselves, thereby equipping them to let their lives speak in ways that engage other people.

We do not “teach religion”—we do not teach what to believe, nor the right (or wrong) way to think. Rather, we teach the beliefs and practices of many religions, and we invite critical inquiry, so that students learn to appreciate and value the wisdom traditions that have come down to us through the ages, while reconciling them with their own experiences and family traditions. I have yet to have a student in class that did not learn a substantial amount about their own family’s spiritual and religious traditions; and in most cases the experience has deepened their appreciation for those traditions. Indeed, I would claim that most of the students at George School who identify as religiously faithful see me and the other members of the Religions Department as strong allies for their journey. May that continue to be so.

When we gathered to consider possible alternate names for our department, we considered a variety of options which are visible at other high schools that include, Religious Studies; Religious Thought; Contemplative Studies; Religious Life; Quaker Studies; and various combinations of each of these. While each of these has compelling justifications, as a team we were able to reach unity in support of “Religions,” because it had the greatest virtue of accuracy and inclusiveness for almost all of our courses. This includes Theory of Knowledge, which can be taught as a cut-and-dry philosophy course, but at its best it is fundamentally aligned with the Quaker mission of George School, to seek truth and to invite students to let their lives speak. While that may not be “religion,” per se, it is certainly congruent with the overall mission of the Religions Department.

Going forward, the Religions Department looks forward to the Quaker discipline of continuing revelation. In the last several years, we have begun to offer the following courses: Religions of the African Diaspora, Feminist Theology, and Spirituality and Sustainability. I am considering augmenting my current Peace Studies class to create one more explicitly focused on spirit-led non-violent direct action. A fundamental precept of Quakerism is the importance of staying open to new Light, and keeping the dialogue going. If you have ideas for courses that you think might be offered through the Religions Department, or other thoughts about this blog post, I look forward to hearing from you.

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The Death of Four Square?

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by Eric Wolarsky

It’s not too often that great moments in history light up like a neon sign and flicker at us through the ages. The competition to design the new bronze doors for the Baptistery in Florence in 1401 shouts out “The Italian Renaissance begins here!” And the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 dramatically signaled the end of the Cold War, though teenage me was too obtuse to understand that at the time.

As George School inches closer to its 125th year, we need only look at the images of its earliest students on the walls of the Meetinghouse to see how much the school has changed over the years. But most of that change occurred in a long, slow evolution, and the obvious watershed moments were few and far between. However, a momentous change is underway at George School this year, and the rapidity of its stunning arrival has left many in our community feeling whiplash.

For me it began on a pleasantly brisk morning in the first week of December. Having descended five flights of stairs from my apartment in Central dormitory to the Children’s Center in the basement of Main, I finished dropping off my son, walked down the hallway past the offices of our IS department, and emerged on Red Square en route to my office in Marshall. That’s when I noticed it.

There was a group of students in a tight circle on Red Square, playing hacky sack. It was pretty early in the morning, and Red Square was otherwise abandoned, and I didn’t think much of it at the time.

I walk back and forth between Marshall and Main a half dozen times per day. And an eerie sense of something strange, something out of place started to grow within me with each subsequent trip that week. Each time I would cross between the buildings, I would see a group playing hacky sack, maybe two, and no one playing four square.

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “Fickle teenagers and their passing fads. This will surely pass.”

But several days went by, and it didn’t pass. I was growing uneasy.

As dean of students, I can’t just ignore major events affecting our student body. But I didn’t understand what was happening, and it was disorienting. Faced with this mystery, I did what I always do. I asked Twitter.

erics-tweets1 For 24 hours, Twitter offered no answers. But the next afternoon, crossing Red Square at the end of my work day, some students playing hacky sack asked me what I thought about “the poll.”

“What poll?” I asked.

“The poll on Twitter,” they replied.

It turned out that George School’s observant assistant director of communications had seen my tweet and launched a Twitter poll asking the community to vote between activities: four square or hacky sack. Engrossed in my work all day, I hadn’t seen the poll yet. By the time I took a look an hour later, there were already 44 respondents, and hacky sack had a big lead.

For 24 hours interested parties waited to see how the poll would turn out. Alums in the Twitterverse chimed in with opinions. Tweets about the validity of the poll were bandied about. When it was all said and done, Team Hacky Sack had won, 53% to 47%. There it was in indisputable pixels on a screen. The impossible had become possible, and a community that had been defined by its allegiance to the subtle art of four square – for decades! – had suddenly pivoted.

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The pro-hack students were ebullient in their victory. And, to my surprise, it has been a lasting victory. I haven’t seen four square played in nearly two weeks now. It is as if the entire student body, through some silent, secret shibboleth, has cast off the defining communal activity of our central plaza.

I’m not entirely sure yet how I feel about this. There was something egalitarian, something creative about four square. It served as a metaphor for the school’s values. Can hacky sack wield the same symbolic force? Will it be as inclusive and engrossing? After the winter’s frost has come and gone from Red Square, will the school revert to muscle memory, and the four square ball will come out again on an unseasonably warm day in late February? Or is this it from now on?

Those questions will be answered in time. What I know today is that many of our students are proud that they’ve staked out a new identity. They’ve shown that they are not beholden to tradition, and that they don’t have to do what their older siblings did when they were here. We may lament the passing of four square, but we must honor the spirit of independence that animates this hacky sack movement.

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On the Occasion of Nancy’s Retirement

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Nancy and Jack Starmer pose at the end of an All-School Assembly in honor of Nancy.

Below is the transcript of a speech given by Ralph Lelii, International Baccalaureate (IB) program director, English teacher, and Theory of Knowledge teacher at the All-Alumni Gathering celebrating Nancy Starmer during Alumni Weekend. 

Welcome Friends.

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to you on the occasion of Nancy Starmer’s retirement. Standing here before you in May of my thirtieth year of service, I am struck by how time has tempered the faces of so many friends and former students and colleagues. Men and women I knew as adolescents sit before me today with the wizened faces of professionals, artists, and parents, the youthful and dreamy countenances of their youth replaced by more mature and thoughtful visages. It is at once striking and miraculous to see how time records its ineffable movement on these fragile bodies of ours. Most of all, though, I am struck by how, after three decades, I alone among us all seem to have remained utterly unchanged. It is quite remarkable. Continue reading

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First full day in South Africa

We had a very full but also wonderful first day. We started the day at the District Six Museum which commemorates what once was a culturally diverse and economically vibrant neighborhood at the base of Table Mountain. In 1961, under the Group Areas Act of the apartheid government, the residents of that area were forcibly removed and the community demolished as a sheer act of power. Our guide was 22 at the time and his family was displaced. After lunch we took the cable car up Table Mountain. By then the fog had lifted and we were treated to some spectacular views. Continue reading

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Reflections on Taking Responsibility

by Sara Rhodin ’02, history department

In his 1978 essay, the “Power and the Powerless,” Vaclav Havel, the esteemed Czech dissident and later president of the Czech Republic, tells the story of a manager of a fruit and vegetable stand who places a sign in his window– as instructed by the Communist authorities– exclaiming “Workers of the World Unite!” Why does this aforementioned greengrocer display such an enthusiastic cry for unification of the world’s workers in his window? Does he really care about the unification of workers, or has he even given thought to what such a unification would look like? Likely, Havel argues, the vast majority of greengrocers in Communist Czechoslovakia don’t even think about the signs they place in their windows or care about the message they are conveying by engaging in this act except to say, as Havel puts it, “I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.” It’s an action stemming from a deep fear of losing one’s freedom, livelihood, and in the most banal of terms, “a relatively tranquil life.” But by engaging in this action, by placing this seemingly empty slogan in the window of his store, the greengrocer is taking a political stance; he is lending legitimacy to a totalitarian regime in order to protect his own interests. Continue reading

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China: Summer 2014

by Michael LoStracco, religion department and international student sponsor

We arrived in China as tourists, but we left as guests, having learned one immeasurably precious value through our service-learning work, that of intimacy.

Upon our arrival in Beijing, we were immediately swept up into the manic rush of the sprawling capital city. High on the North China Plain, Beijing is an endless city, seemingly boundless across spans of history, geography, and imagination.  We spent our first three days in China visiting some of the most important Chinese cultural heritage sites, including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.  Our group spent some time among the crowded and storied hutongs—the historic and quickly vanishing warrens of squat residential buildings and outdoor markets that characterize some of the oldest parts of the city— but mostly  we were whisked from site to site, trying to see all that we could see in our short time there.  We were fortunate enough to have some relatively clear, sunny days, which are few and far between in Beijing, with the notable exception of being caught in a rare hailstorm while visiting the Temple of Heaven.  During our time in the capital, we dined in popular restaurants and slept in comfortable hotel beds.  Pleasant, yes, but distant: our group was eager to experience China, to work and live within communities, to meet and come to know our hosts.

From Beijing we flew three hours south and west to the provincial capital of Guiyang, in Guizhou, a province populated by the ethnic minority Miao and Dong peoples.  From Guiyang, we drove another three hours to the prefectural seat of Kaili, a smaller city of approximately 500,000.  Along the way, we were introduced to smaller cities and towns, each known for its contribution to Miao and southern Chinese culture.

Our service work began in Kaili, where the transformation from tourist to guest began to take place.  Our group worked closely with the English language students at the University there, helping them practice their conversational English, teaching them new English words and phrases, and playing language-based games.  But beyond the instruction and play, something else was taking place: the students began connecting across language barriers and cultural differences with humor and curiosity.  Lessons and games turned into conversation and discussion, which then led to games of basketball and table tennis.  A transformation was taking shape before our eyes, though few of us were aware of it at the time.  Through smiles and laughter and sweat, a deepening understanding and bond was being formed.  We were getting closer, more intimate, with our hosts, the country and the culture.

From Kaili we hiked roughly nine miles through the Thunder God mountain range to the rural Miao village of Baibi, home to a community of subsistence farmers and their families.  The hike was arduous, and the group struggled mightily to complete it, but after four and half hours, we finally arrived and were greeted with the blasts of firecrackers, bamboo pipe music, and saucerfuls of warm Sprite, which were ceremoniously served to us by elder women in colorful traditional custom.  Exhausted and famished, we had dinner together and rested, preparing for our first full day of work the following day.  Our project in Baibi was to build benches and planters made of brick and concrete at the local elementary school.  All the work tasks were to be done manually: all the hauling, lifting, mixing, laying, and smoothing was to be done with our own bodies, by our own effort and sweat.

With gloved hands and aging tools, our group enthusiastically got to work the next morning, straining our bodies in the southwestern China sun, diligently completing each task and earning a righteous exhaustion.  Along the way, we learned from the locals how to mix cement, lay brick and handle shovels, hoes, and trowels without straining ourselves.  Our hosts were patient with us, and we learned from each other in ways beyond language.  Because school was still in session, we even had the opportunity to work with some of the children at the school, whose bright smiles and brilliant curiosity taught us all something about spontaneity, generosity and unselfconsciousness.  Each afternoon and evening we shared meals together in the village secretary’s home, bowlfuls of delicious locally grown and raised vegetables and meats, wok-fried to sumptuous perfection, served over heaps of white rice from the rippled hillsides around us.  The food and the time spent together eating and resting were nourishing.  Slowly, over the course of five days, we were growing more intimate with each other, with our work, and with the community that hosted and supported us.

Upon completing our service-learning work in Baibi, we continued on to the larger Miao village of Xijiang, which has developed over the last four years into a domestic tourist hotspot.  It is no surprise why: The picturesque village is tucked away in a lush valley surrounded by green hills dotted with spruce and cedar and lined with verdant terraced rice paddies.  Xijiang offers colorful demonstrations of commerce and culture and is quite bustling, a big change from sleepy Baibi.  Our group entered the village through one of its massive gates and proceeded to hike on up into the hills to meet our host families.  Fortunately, our large luggage met us at the top, taken there on mule back.

Our work in Xijiang began the following day, and unfortunately the mules wouldn’t be able to help us with our commute to the work site each day, which involved a steep and rigorous 30-minute hike.  As challenging as the hike alone was, the view it afforded was surely worth it: for miles all around one took in a vista of rolling, rippled deep green hills veiled in a soft grey mist, a mist that rolled on through the valleys like a tide.  The scenery was gripping, beautiful, causing one to pause every few steps just to take it all in.

Once we got to the work site, where we our job was to help repair and revive an old overgrown paddy, the hard manual work resumed.  Our group jumped to it, taking the shovels, hoes, and buckets and getting to the laborious task of earth removal, digging up mounds of grass and dirt to both flatten and clear the ground and to get at the clay we would use to make cement.  Again, the locals modeled how to work and use our tools properly, so as not to burn-out or injure ourselves.  We watched and listened closely and followed their lead.  In pairs, some of us took to the task of creating an embankment which would effectively retain the water in the paddy and prevent too much run-off and possible mudslides.  For three days we engaged in demanding physical labor under the cover of mountain cloud and mist.  We shared stories and jokes with one another and found ways to interact and laugh with our local guides.  In the afternoons and evenings, our group parted ways and returned to our homestays, where we had our meals and rested.  Again the service-learning work pushed us physically, but as we were beginning to realize, we were being challenged in other ways as well.

The elders in the village of Xijiang gave us a heartfelt and colorful send-off on our final night, performing several traditional songs and dances, much to the delight of our group and the small children of the village.  We were even invited to share something of our own, which we did, singing a rousing, if out-of-tune, rendition of the George School hymn.  The next morning we set out for Guiyang, the provincial capital, stopping along the way to hike through an incredible natural preserve with three gorgeous, crystalline waterfalls.  Once in Guyiyang, our guide Michael took us to visit a popular park in the city center, inhabited by wild macaque monkeys who happen to have an appetite for processed snack foods and bottled water.  Hiking uphill to the center of the park, we came to an ancient Mahayana Buddhist temple and monastery.  There we were greeted by the fragrance of incense and the billowing smoke from joss sticks lit to carry off supplicants’ prayers and intentions to the heavens.  We were shown around the main temple to Shakyamuni Buddha by a monk who explained the ornate decorations and statuary, and some of us were moved to make offerings of our own.  Considering it was our final night in China before a long day of travel home, such offerings seemed appropriate.

Throughout the trip we held meetings for worship, and before bed on our final night together in China, we met one last time.  Gathered there, the ten of us in a small hotel room in Guiyang, sitting in a circle on the floor, exhausted and eager to see our families after a long journey, it struck me just how close we had all become, and not just with each other, but also with the country, its people and the virtues of service-learning work.  This led me to reflect on the nature of intimacy, of closeness, and how in our ordinary life back home, we are hardly intimate with ourselves, our work and each other in the ways we are when traveling in a distant land and doing hard work, especially in a rural, mountainous region like Guizhou, so far removed from anything familiar to us back home.

Through our traveling together, on planes and buses and vans, we had come to trust and rely on one another for safety, for company, for the relief of laughter.  Hiking together— up and down the Great Wall, through the mountain wilderness and countryside—brought us closer not only to each other but also to a sense of China’s great history, to its immense and immeasurably beautiful natural environment and cultural heritage.  Working together, whether in the classroom or out in the rice paddies, brought us all closer to a sense of ourselves, what we are capable of, what our bodies can do and the limits of our exertion.  Through our work and sweat we gave of ourselves in service to others, from whom we came to learn how to do just that, humbly and graciously.  Through the food we ate we became closer to the land, eating that which was grown and raised locally by our hosts, in the places we saw and worked in.  We became more intimate with agricultural life, with the sounds and smells of animals that are uncommon in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  Most importantly, through our entire trip together, we became thoroughly conversant and intimate with difference: the differences among individuals in our small group, the differences of geography, and language and culture, the difference between who we were at the start of the trip and who we had become by its end.  We had arrived as tourists, feeling distant and perhaps alien to the unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds of a foreign land, but through our service-learning work and being nurtured by the openness and kindness of our hosts, we had become guests, feeling close to the land and its people, learning the value of giving of ourselves and being open to receiving from others.

 

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Simplicity

by Michael LoStracco, religion department and international student sponsor

When I was 19, I was given the gift of an image, a memory I return to again and again in meditations on the testimony of Simplicity, a quality of unadorned, unencumbered grace.

At the time I was working for a tree service company in between semesters at college.  It was good, hard work.  We began early, 7:00 a.m., and I would walk to work each morning, half-asleep with a brown paper lunch sack crumpled in hand.  Quit-time was whenever the job was done, and it seemed the job was never done.  I worked with that company for all fours years of college, and it wasn’t until I approached the completion of my B.A. that my boss even let me near the proper chainsaws.  My main responsibilities were to clear  fallen debris from the ground beneath whatever tree we were working on, and to not get hurt.  Simple, yes, but I can’t say I was always completely successful at either.  I still remember our number one rule: when you hear the chainsaws running, don’t go under that tree. Continue reading

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Pruning

by Ralph Lelii, English department

When I purchased my home back in 1999, my wife was pleased to discover that there was a mature pear tree on the grounds which we had overlooked in the inspection. As we moved in during late August, the tree virtually groaned with ripe pears. They were plump and unblemished, but when we picked one to taste, we were disappointed in its bitterness; it seemed as if the flesh was bereft of sugar. All of them were like this.

Puzzled, we consulted an arborist who informed us that the tree had to be pruned in order to bear the kind of fruit we wanted. Skeptical, but obedient to his expertise, we did as we were told, and miraculously, after cutting away about a third of the tree, next year’s crop was flush with sweet, ripe pears. The idea of cutting away healthy, thick plant tissue to produce healthier tissue was a strange concept for me, but after fifteen years on the property, pruning has become a fall and spring ritual for all of our plants, empirical evidence that less is indeed often more.

As children, we produce more connections-synapses- between brain cells than we need. During puberty, the body carries out a kind of neural topiary, cutting away synapses and allowing others to strengthen. As many as half of these brain junctures are cut away by our bodies, resulting in more efficient, sophisticated and richer cognitive activity. It was once believed that this pruning stopped in our late teens, but it is now accepted that this neural pruning continues into our late twenties and beyond. Quantity is sacrificed for quality, even in the physiological vineyard of the very cells that constitute human consciousness.

I thought of this sitting in MFW yesterday as I was looking at some of the senior members in my monthly meeting. One couple in particular are in their late eigthies, hale and hearty and cogent as tax attornies. They once owned a huge house, raised a family, but in their own words, consciously pruned back their lives as they reached seventy, selling off what seemed unecessary, perhaps even counterproductive, and moving into a small apartment. Both husband and wife say that the last twenty years of their lives have been the richest they can recall, the spiritual fruit of their lives laced far more heavily with the sweet and subtle scent of self-awareness and connection.

It is hard in our culture to talk about death. Often it is seen as morbid or negative and depressing, and I suspect that this social quieting makes the underlying prospect seem even more terrible and isolating. As  I sit in silence and look at the beauty of the elders in my meeting, and then glance at the inchoate longings of the children and younger members, I think perhaps that even rich souls must be pruned away to make way for new ideas, new directions, new possibilities. It is the way of things, nothing more.  Viewed in this context, death does not perhaps lose its sting entirely, but it certainly gives us a possible way of understanding it that connects us more deeply to the miraculous nature of creation, death and rebirth, its myriad cycles and processes. Death isn’t personal; it’s just the business of life.

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