Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Rainbow Connection

As promised yesterday, here is one of my four speeches I gave at the 8th grade graduation. Imagine every child in every school in every state in every country given this kind of attention, this sense of being welcomed and known, this commitment to being publicly celebrated for who they’ve been, who they are and who they might become. Maybe, just maybe, we’d create a different kind of future citizen that might just bring the healing this world needs. “No Child Left Unknown” (or Unwelcomed or Unloved) might just be the most important political movement of the future. Non-partisan, non-dogmatic, just the possibility that if 100% of every class of school children was loved and honored and welcomed and taught in ways that allowed their character, passions and interests to shine, we could finally step up to our “intellectual, imaginative and humanitarian promise” (from our school mission statement), find that pot of gold that awaits us. Here is my talk about a beautiful soul named Aurora.

Rudolf Steiner, the educational visionary who founded Waldorf Schools, talks about children as descending to earth from the Spiritual World and notes what a rude shock it is to be incarnated into a body and thrown into the grand drama of good and evil in this world. For some of us, the door to that Spirit world slams shut and we never give it a second thought. But for others, that door is open wide and they pass back and forth freely. They look at a rainbow and through the gift of imagination, follow it to the pot of gold. And that’s Aurora. It’s no accident that she brought the room to a pindrop silence when she sang Kermit's song from the Muppets:  

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, what’s on the other side?… Someday we’ll find it the Rainbow Connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.” I think she’s been to that other side, visits it when she draws or sings or writes. She played the Fool in the St. George play, the character who sees beyond the norm and was one of the fairy spirit Ariels in The Tempest. Coincidence? I think not.

And then there’s her name. Aurora was the Greek goddess of the dawn, renewing herself every morning by flying across the sky and announcing the coming of the sun. And there’s also the Aurora Borealis, those extraordinary Northern Lights that fill the night sky with a corona of colorful electromagnetic rays. I’ve only seen them once, but it is indeed a sight to behold. How did their parents know how perfectly this name would fit? From rainbows to northern lights, Aurora’s spirit brings a magical color and light to the world.

But that’s not the whole story. Aurora’s feet are also firmly planted on this earth. In a recent report she wrote: 

"Music can hold more meaning than just words and jazz artists have used that to speak out against injustice and inequality and influence the views of people who have been hypnotized by the societal standards. Jazz highlighted the artistic and intelligent abilities of blacks and the racist inequality that plagues America." 

Those are the words of someone who has been at both ends of the rainbow and understands there’s more to do here than just gaze at the light. You have to spend some time in the darkness too.

Schools tend to prefer the studious, the mathematically-minded, the practical students and are sometimes impatient with the ones who are looking out the window when they should be memorizing the state capitols. But we need the dreamers amongst us, they refresh us with their insights, they remind us that there’s more to this world than meets the eye. Aurora’s spirit has given that kind of gift to us for all these years. We’ve taught her the color spectrum and the scientific nature of light and the names of the chords that go with the notes and she’s helped us remember the magic and mystery behind it all. As the song says, 

“What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?” says the song. Well, ask Aurora. 

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