Thursday, March 20, 2014

Letter from the General Secretary - March 2014

- Arie van Ameringen

Dear Friends,

On Thursday evening, January 23rd,  we met with some fifty members at Hesperus, in Thornhill, Ontario. The evening had been organized by the Council with the artistic collaboration of Regine Kurek. The theme of our gathering was: “How can we work together in these challenging times as members of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada even though we may come from different directions?”  A brief presentation at the start of this gathering tied this theme to the theme of the year for the General Anthroposophical Society: “The “I” recognizes itself.”

Social exercise with clay modeling
Regine Kurek divided the participants into groups of seven, each group standing around a mound of clay which had already been slightly sculpted but hidden under a cloth.  Upon uncovering the clay model, we were urged to observe its forms and attempt to characterize in words how the concave and convex surfaces interacted.  A basic idea emerged: generosity, harmony.  We were then shown a picture of an existing sculpture and asked to relate it to the form we had in front of us.  In my group, the image we were given to relate to was a human figure by the sculptor Barlach – an image quite striking in its simplicity of line and its almost living quality of warmth. Then the participants, inspired by this contemplation, set about transforming their mound of clay together. The work proceeded in silence, in a mood of respect and devotion. It soon became a rhythmic dialogue:  in one place clay was added, in another the shape was modified. And in the course of the activity, we sensed how we were truly learning to work together. At the end of the exercise, we were able to give a name to what we had created: freedom.

Once again as a large group, we observed the various creations and shared our impressions of the results of the exercise. The following are some of the comments made by participants:

-I had feelings of sympathy and antipathy in watching someone else
-we could work in a harmonious, sensing-feeling way
-the groups only added to the sculpture, there was no taking away
- the archetypal picture was there at the end as a gift
-when we recognize the "I" in the other, there is a gift quality to it
-only the "I" can make space for the other

At the end of the gathering, one lady said how she didn’t really understand the theme at the outset; it was a mystery to her. But then, at the end, she felt she had understood: the “I” recognizes itself in the other.

Our sincere thanks to Regine for having given us the opportunity to live this artistic experience!

2016 Conference
As I mentioned last spring, we are planning an international conference to be held in Ottawa from August 7th to 13th, 2016. Although several elements have already been set in motion, the organizing committee, consisting of Jean Balekian, Dorothy LeBaron, Robert Mackay and myself, was only able to meet for the first time on March 14th. Reinhart Rosch has made preliminary enquiries as to a suitable venue, and it is highly probable that the event will be held at Saint Paul’s University. Several members of the Executive Committee at the Goetheanum have already confirmed their presence as lecturers for the conference: Paul Mackay, Bodo von Plato, Joan Sleigh and Seija Zimmermann. The general theme will explore how anthroposophy is experienced in the various fields of human activity. For now, we have given the conference a provisional working title: In search of the universally human. Besides lectures and artistic activities, we are also planning to provide substantial space for members to present their own research into one aspect of the conference theme. Somewhat along the lines of a “symposium”, this form is an attempt at something new, a way to allow members an active voice during the event. We will be encouraging members from all parts of the country to share the results of their personal research in their chosen field. Throughout the year, the members of the organizing committee and I myself will be more that happy to meet with you to discuss the theme and content of the conference.

Other news and events 
Despite her extremely heavy schedule, Virginia Sease has kindly agreed to visit Canada; she will be in Montreal on July 13th and 14th of this year.  On the first day, she is to meet with Class members in the context of the School for Spiritual Science and on the second day with members and friends. She will be giving two lectures, and we shall be able to give more detailed information as it becomes available, most likely in April.

After several months’ absence, Jean Balekian is back working with the Council. We are extremely pleased that he has regained his health and can once again resume an active role.

Wishing you a wonderful beginning of the spring season,

Arie van Ameringen
General Secretary

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