July 31, 2019
If you’d been in the parking lot at Menucha Retreat and Conference Center on Thursday morning, July 18th you might have heard a CD in a car playing a song of third graders from St Joseph school in Salem, OR singing “I am a miracle, you are a miracle,” a heartfelt send-off to the twenty teachers and three facilitators on their way home from an emotional, transformative two-day retreat titled Renewing Ourselves & Our Teaching. (Our thanks to St Joseph teacher Joe Amsberry who produced this song with his students.)
I am a miracle, you are a miracle.
The impact on us all cannot be easily put into words, but words came nonetheless. One teacher wrote “I came to Menucha broken and weakened from the circumstances that surrounded me and seemed too heavy a weight to bear on my own. I left Menucha with my head held high full of perspective and strength from my brothers and sisters. I feel more in touch with who I am than at any time I can remember.” Another participant wrote “I am so grateful for having this experience. I do feel that it has forever changed me, and I am a better person because of it.”
Helping educators regain their heart and purpose in teaching has long been a mission of the sponsoring organization, The Heritage Institute, which I have had the privilege of shepherding for the past twenty-six years. Think about this: the soul of America, the most powerful nation on Earth, is shaped through the people most influential in our childrens’ lives —parents, teachers and friends. Teacher wellness in all its aspects deserves recognition but is tragically overlooked in our system of education which values head knowledge and getting a job more than human being and belonging.
I have facilitated many retreats in the past twenty years, but none had the depth of personal connection, courage to be emotionally vulnerable and breadth of insight that so many of us experienced. The beauty of nature at Menucha (pr. Menuka), prior connections some teachers had with our courses, outstanding presence of co-facilitators Brenda McKinney and Charity Staudenraus certainly contributed.
As I stood, Heritage Retreat sign in hand, greeting teachers as they came on the property, I saw in the faces of so many just such a pure love and openness that I felt drawn to hug every one. In this very toxic period in our country’s history, it’s as if Spirit were gathering those of us together who are affirming that love and peace have the final say over hatred and division.