Our outside welcome circle contains the spark of spontaneity and accesses the Soul Schoolers inner terrain:
Shir Yaakov: What animal do you feel like right now and why?
Students: A cheetah, as I feel hyper... A sloth, as I am tired....
S"Y: Walk forth as that animal and find your Sit Spot!
One boy gracefully rests feline-like belly down atop a fence, another perches quietly on the roof of the shed and a latecomer finds himself in the tall grasses. S"Y models deep meditation in Sit Spot and it imprints. All, including myself (Ruth), are deeply affected and fall into a place of deep rest and oneness. Spread through the yard, scattered about, we are connected—silent and still in this breath, resting in it and experiencing it. The group has landed.
S"Y: Bring back a treasure from nature you notice on you walk back to the Circle....
As the afternoon unfolds, we enter into what one child named a trust exercise. Inspired by the first verses of the פָּרָשָׁה|parsha ("torah portion") Lech Lecha, we walk forth into the unknown — blindfolded! A friend guide us, slowly and safely, until we come to a new land. We are invited to open our eyes as if they are opening to a new day.
We bring natural objects inside, create a good circle of chairs, and introduce Counsel. Soul Schoolers place their objects that identify their mood — a brick (feeling heavy) — in the center as an altar, and the objects transform into talking pieces.
To deepen and access the experience of listening from the heart, the ears are imagined as flowers whose roots are in the heart, and some students join in opening the blood flow from the heart and calming anxiety through acupressure point massage of kidney 27 (join in: at the junction of the collarbone and the breastbone).
Heartspeak in circles is modeled and joined at each child's pace — some name anxieties inside themselves, some name something outside themselves, and some let out their sillies. Wonderings about the next president occupy more than one sharing, and only as kids can model — excitement about soccer games and the glory of skateboarding follow close behind.
While the day darkens to night, there is beauty awaiting us in colored chalk on the board. S"Y has the class gaze upon the Hebrew letters of lech lecha and sound and repeat the words of the first verse. The Soul Schoolers create body movements spontaneously adding emphasis to the verse that will be built upon and recognized in years to come. Seeds are being planted to grow into familiar signposts that guide our children into new lands and simultaneously return them to self, heart, and each other. Lech Lecha... "go forth to yourself... from your land... from your birthplace... from your father's house... to the unknown land I will show you."
—Ruth and Shir Yaakov