Lovely short film from Ian MacKenzie, featuring Stephen Jenkinson’s work through his and Nathalie Jenkinson’s Orphan Wisdom School, which Stephen describes on his website as ‘a teaching house and learning house for the skills of deep living and making human culture. It is rooted in knowing history, being claimed by ancestry, working for a time yet to come’.
Essentially, their work is about the antidotes to our personal, relational and cultural disconnection and alienation: reconnecting people with the land, with their own personhood and embodied being, and with a sense of the sacred. Stephen says:-
‘Human beings aren’t born. They are made. And how do you make humans? The answer is, well, you’ve got to kill off their childhood. And why? Because the childhood doesn’t give way, that’s why.’
We need some kind of metaphorical birthing process, after our birth, to become who we are, who we have it in us to be, as our fullest adult selves.
The writer’s own slant on this is a little different, similar in essence. She thinks we ARE born – but then we get buried. We come in whole, at birth – present, experiencing organismically. You have only to consider the smile of a baby, that lighting up of entire being. But as we grow, this becomes over-lain with introjections, self structure and disconnection from organismic experience. We all undergo this in childhood to a greater or lesser extent, especially in our cultures as they now stand. The ‘making’ is the potential healing of this and return to organismic experiencing. That is the work Stephen is offering, and it’s the work we offer through this service, too.
This is also from Stephen’s website – http://orphanwisdom.com/ – under the ‘About’ tab:-
‘Orphans are not people who have no parents: they are people who don’t know their parents, who cannot go to them. Ours is a culture built upon the ruthless foundation of mass migration, but it is more so now a culture of people unable to say who their people are. In that way we are, relentlessly, orphans. Being an orphan culture does not mean that we have no wisdom. But wisdom is being confused in our time with information. Wisdom is an achievement, hard earned and faithfully paid for; it’s not a possession.
Not knowing where you are from is not the same thing as being from nowhere, but it does mean that there is work of all kinds to be done. It could be that the only way for successful refugees to make a culture from their flight is to first be faithful witnesses to what their ancestry now asks of them, instead of what it might have fated them to be. Our culture, if a culture it can be called, or all those things we have instead of a culture, has come to a time of savage despair, it seems. We surround ourselves with generations of the debris of refugeehood, to fill the hollow of orphanhood. We have become a danger to ourselves, and a menace to all who will come after us and to the world. We abandon our dead to make our way, and we are mostly singular people. We might now be the twilight of our ancestors’ dream.
An orphan wisdom might be the only culture-making thing we can rightly, honourably or faithfully claim. There is immense grief in knowing this well and going towards it anyway. That grief could be our way of working now, our labour. It could be our beauty, too.
In an information-drunk culture like our own, knowledge must be the life-tested skill of gathering what is needed, truly needed, without killing life by getting what we want. You could say that knowledge gathers wood and flint and gut. Wisdom must be the place where that knowledge is fired, forged and annealed to become something of great beauty, useful to the world. You could say that wisdom conjures a cranky, playable fiddle from what knowledge gathers. Human culture is made when that beauty swells into life and dies to nourishes some time to come. You could say that people who have been bathed in grief and a love for life play some small magnificence on those fiddles together and sing their unknown songs to each other, and make human culture.’
And here is the link to Ian MacKenzie’s site concerning this film:-
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