If there’s a heaven higher than the seventh, that’s where you’ll find me. Teaching 24 Level III students in our International Orff training, alongside nine colleagues I’ve known and loved from anywhere between 10 and 30 years. The teachers gathered at my house on Saturday night for dinner, together for the first time after three years apart. Within two minutes, the laughter flowed alongside the beer and wine and I realized how much I missed this.
Down we drove on Sunday for the profound Opening Ceremony described yesterday and Monday morning, the wild rumpus began. My 24 students were equally happy to re-unite with former Levels classmates after a few year’s absence and after last year’s modified course with only American students, it has been a delight beyond words to once again greet these beautiful souls from Spain, Catalonia, Croatia, Latvia, Iran, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil, Thailand, China and throughout the United States, each bringing their extraordinary musicianship, cultures and beautiful selves to the mix.
The contrast with the world’s refusal to permit its own happiness is maddening. If people everywhere had met the people I have and partaken of the fruits of delicious shared humanity, why would there be any cause for the torment of self-imposed isms? If they had been present at the three-hour jam session last night with non-stop playing, singing and dancing together, why would they ever wish harm to another human being? If they witnessed the warmth and the humor and the pride and the humility of the 90 lovely souls gathered together to help make the children they teach happier and do their part to bequeath them the world they deserve, would they keep excusing politicians and corporate raiders who harm others for their own power and financial gain?
You see, it’s not easy for me to simply accept the gift of living in the realm beyond the seventh layer of heaven without wishing it for all people, without holding the hurters’ feet to the fire. But here in this moment, I am simply grateful beyond any words, songs or gestures to have the opportunity to share everything I love and care for and devoted my life to upholding with this group of people eager to receive it. Having been in the first two Levels here, these people know things and are comfortable enough with the basic understandings, techniques and repertoire that allow us to play fabulous music instantly, to discuss the details of pedagogy that will change their teaching forever, that will help reveal the exquisite sequence lying underneath the fun and childlike activities.
I’ve often quoted Rockefeller as a critique of his unsatiable greed— “How much money is enough? “ “Just a little bit more.” But truth be told, I have the same feeling about teaching like this. I’m teaching four hours a day here for 10 days, but already feel, “Not enough! More! I’m just getting warmed up!”
Perhaps I simply need to wait until a Vacancy sign appears in the Ninth Heaven. Meanwhile, I am fully savoring each minute of the Eighth.