September 4


As this new school year begins I am reminded again and again of the relevance of my internal experiences to how I am supporting and honoring the experiences of those around me.

I notice tremors of insufficiency and recognize the spirit of scarcity behind these momentary possessions. Who benefits from my sense of scarcity?

Or, if I am present to these sensations and notice the narratives that I have adapted to justify and substantiate them. Without buying-in to the solidity of shame, defensiveness, desire for proof, construction of a more perfect abstract self that I can measure my current manifestation against. What spirit is here? Vulnerability?

A mystic transubstantiation of scarcity into fundamental sufficiency.

The reach through the curtain of solidity (lolly-pop tree) to tenderness (curved trunk, bent branch, chewed leaf) lands me in presence, actually, where none of us (humans, flowers, ants, words) is an object.

What if every student is a subject? What if this computer is a subject? The water I drink. The coffee grounds through which I pour it. The spirits held in the words that are written here.

Can you feel it? The breathing-ness? The abundance of intelligence?

Yesterday we, the teachers, introduced ourselves to our new student body. Between a quarter and a third of the youth are new to us, to our school; the rest familiar faces, to whom we are familiar. Our new team member won’t join until next week (see, first ever interview panel).

We divided the students into 5 groups and sent the groups room to room to hear from each teacher. I quickly realized that other teachers had prepared their introductions. There were slides, power points, lists of favorites. Oh! Hello. A manifesto, just here, in my chest, of the scarcity spirit: I am not prepared. So: surface the feeling, with as little defensiveness or performativity (oh, my sweet inner white girl, always smiling and self-deprecating, making herself small enough to share the power) as possible. Then, feel for what resources are present.

The Circle is present. Name the value of the circle. Make it personal. Invite without requiring.

Being in relationship is present. Students who know me offer what they know. I say names and allow for pauses, invite them to pass as they need. Everyone finds something to offer. I am easy to talk to, understanding, keep my word, artist, yoga, makes good broth, theatre field trips, outspoken, loving, upbeat and energetic. To each thing I express gratitude, and add words.

When there is a lul or we lose the thread: what resource is here? The word Abolition arises. The resource is truth. The resource is ground. The resource is having others who are doing the work and showing me the way. I call them into the room with this word. My students are quiet to hear about this spirit: Abolition. She takes many forms. She sees dehumanization. She sees what is possible. Healing. I say: hurt people hurt people. Systems that don’t support the most vulnerable harm us all.

Now, I am not the only person here, isolated by scarcity. Instead, I am made present by connecting to resource. I see their faces, instead of my own.

Vulnerable means able to be wounded. I wonder about this. If I am the most powerful person in the room, can I protect myself from wounding and still offer trust?

Published by Devon Riley

lately: youth work, parenting, sorcery, books, walks in the woods

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