“Little thoughts will get us nowhere, so we must pluck up the courage to think big thoughts.” ~ Rudolf Steiner
Germinal Cells are all that physically remain of a caterpillar in the midst of metamorphosis. Small clusters of cells swim in a sea of liquid, enclosed in the cocoon. The form of the butterfly will manifest upon this foundation. Nature’s wisdom lies with the beings that stand behind her forms. Contraction, dissolution, redistribution, flow, movement and unconditional surrender to the process are part of metamorphosis. This is the image I hold when I consider the Library in this time of transition. We know its present form quite well, but its future form is still a mystery. The being(s) that stand behind the library guide a process to which we surrender our preconceived ideas, our beloved, and habituated forms, trusting that the ‘germinal cells’ of the library will remain to hold the center. This became very clear to me during the library’s recent Youth Section work week.
Fresh from the inspiring InPower conference in Spring Valley, these young men and women spent a week at the library, repairing books, discussing non-violent transformation and the future of the library. Accomplished in their own rights, as musicians, educators, scholars, social reformers and initiators, it was heartening and touching to experience their collective energy, the freshness of their perspectives, their enthusiasm and commitment to bring anthroposophy into practical life. We accomplished a great deal in terms of book repair, but more importantly we conversed about the future of the library with a generation through whom that future will manifest.
“Sending many books off to the book sale and removing all but the most helpful of old markings felt like a controlled forest burn or deadheading of garden flowers. The library is poised for new growth, though the specific forms have not yet sprouted. What intangible deeds underlie this transformation? With what forces are we working when we care for these old books and the space that now houses them? There is an amazing archive of writings in the library, the documented heritage of our movement, and it must be living.” ~Elizabeth Roosevelt
Wonderful social events filled the week: community dinners, conversations amidst beautiful waterfalls and natural beauty, shared meals among participants and library staff, and more. The week’s theme engaged a global perspective; and one could see how it related to regional, local and even personal matters. Non-violent transformation. How are forms and relationships changed while holding to the sacred integrity of the other? To the necessity of the relationship? How has humanity made the large transitions from violent overthrows and resistance to non-violent, socially dynamic, life-affirming processes of change? How will we change ourselves and our own relationships through processes that value and recognize the inherent integrity of individual destiny and freedom? It is a fitting theme within which to also explore the library’s transition.
“We gathered to brainstorm and prototype possible future forms and processes for the library. We wondered how this library could be renewed, revitalized, transformed. It is currently funded by the Anthroposophical Society in America and membership fees. We wondered how the library could connect the books to the people who need them, who will use them, regardless of cost. How can we get the books to the people who will take the information in them and transform it into living knowledge within themselves? How can Anthroposophy become living knowledge within human beings, rather than stagnate and calcify…What form is needed? What processes would bring life and vitality to this organism? Many beautiful and creative ideas were put forward.” ~Olivia Hanna
“We searched for certain common qualities that nonviolent actions and resisters seem to share. I noticed how leaders seem willing to commit to giving everything, even their lives, for the sake of gaining equality for their brothers and sisters….I wonder how I can connect with this ‘truth force’ and place of fearlessness within myself and apply it to what comes towards me out of the future in my own life?” ~Olivia Hanna
The shared work of repairing books created an atmosphere imbued with intentionality, focus, rhythm and peace. It invited dialogue, inspired questions, drew forth ideas and reflections, and brought diverse perspectives into relationship. The ghosts of former readers resurfaced, through notes in the margins and underlined sections of text, offering questions and questings from past generations to the present. It became clear that group engagement with the collection was an important aspect of keeping the dialogues alive and relevant, of bringing new life into concepts once delivered and codified many years ago.
“As we erased anonymous underlining in old books, striking phrases jumped off the page and echoed around the table. Through whose hands had these pages passed?Encountering each book, we wondered about its history and its previous readers”. ~Elizabeth Roosevelt
“In the picking up and sifting through of books and manuscripts, there was a space made open for questions to sprout and ideas to blossom.” ~James Kuhn
“Many participants expressed how wonderful it was to work together like a buzzing beehive, how enjoyable it was to work with their hands and craft something with care and attention to detail. I found this way of working together very nourishing and I wonder how this type of work can be expanded and applied to other project areas to create healthier communities where we can freely give our work to create something beautiful together.” ~Olivia Hanna
Relationship, community, conversation, connection, these are perhaps the “germinal cells” around which the new form of the library will manifest. Can one unite inwardly with the process? Can one offer outer support? It can be as small as a donation, a “share” on social media, or a letter outlining your thoughts for relevancy in a quickly changing world. You can come for a few hours when visiting the area, or join us for a work week and spend 20+ hours repairing books while participating actively in the processes forming the future.
“One question that still burns in me is: WHO? Who is going to take these ideas and transform them into reality? Who is actually going to commit and do the work? I sensed that those of us sitting in the circle were inspired in some way to hold the library in our consciousness and to participate in small and large ways towards renewing it. Working on the books helped me to feel connected to the specific collection there. I am now curious to see what will happen with it, to stay in touch. I wonder how my generation….will be able to work with and renew the Anthroposophical organizations that exist, many of which were guided and guarded by individuals in the past who gave decades of their lives to caring for these social organisms.” ~Olivia Hanna
The August and September work weeks hold the same promise as the Youth Section work week. Participants will have opportunities to interact more deeply with the collection, meet and discuss significant matters related to the role books play in our biographies and the dissemination of ideas in the world, and support and participate in the transition with human will, intention, and openness to what is streaming toward us from the future. It is an exciting time at the library. We certainly hope you join us in the process.
“I am grateful for having been able to participate in the library week. It seemed that, as participants, we were fed by the same forces of renewal that we strove to bring to this place.” ~Elizabeth Roosevelt
For more information on how you can participate in the RS Library transition, check out the August Work Week, the September work week, Book Repair Workshop, or fill out the Volunteer Form.