The Sacred Season of Childhood

"Sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man stores up many such memories to take into life, then he is saved for his whole life."-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

My journeys have taken me to many different cities right as summer turned to fall. Again and again I was struck by the swiftness and transformation that came as one season ended and the next began.  There is something sacred each season holds that the next leaves behind. Sometimes we find lingering hints of seasons past and elements of the next seasons that were shaped by the preceding one. As my good friend Dr. Scott Martin reminds the OLA community, "We hold memory, but all we have is now-the sacred now." 

It seems childhood is a season in which we grieve the loss of infancy and anticipate the onset of adolescence to a degree that leaves us struggling to embrace the "sacred now" of being a child. The factors that influence this struggle are varied, but as I traveled I came across many places fighting to savor the sacred season of childhood in ways I hope to weave into the fabric of Odyssey Young Leaders Academy.

My very first school visit was to Austin Waldorf School. I came to learn from AWS, and the other Waldorf Schools I visited (Brooklyn and Denver), that schooling can be designed in a way to see and savor the childhood of each child. Waldorf schools pursue engaging students in ways that awaken the imagination and connect to the heart and emotions of the child in their current developmental stage. This invites children into being present and engaged in the discovery and celebration of what is. It frees them to move forward with rhythms that honor their next transition. 

Waldorf schools have steady movement forward without lingering, without rushing. There wasn't a sense of pressure that children should be further along. There wasn't a sense of control that seemed to fight against the growth of a child. Each of these schools honored children in the "sacred now" and met them again in the next sacred now which saturated the season of childhood with memories that just might save a child for their whole life.

This looks like oral story telling to kindle imaginations. It looks like children invited to discover for themselves, to enter into worlds of stories, to become skilled craftsmen, artists, scientists, and musicians, to learn with their whole bodies and whole minds.  It looks like physical spaces hospitable to a child-spaces full of nature, tools to make, build, and cook. It looks like time for choice and voice, time to play and work, time to rest and wonder. Communal rhythms which evoke remembrance, celebration, and future hope while weaving together the fabric of a diverse community. It looks like adults coming alongside, seeing, listening, mentoring, guiding, and releasing.

Odyssey Young Leaders Academy will be a place childhood is embraced, honored, and celebrated for the sacred season it is. It will be a place each child can truly be a child-a child moving and growing in each season of childhood, a child freed to be present in the very season and moments of childhood in their fleeting, precious, and never again "sacred now". We will spend our days creating the fabric of memories which make up this sacred season in a way we believe just might save each child for their whole lives.