Interview: 2021 April – Medicine Path Podcast, Brian James interviews Stephen Jenkinson

Stephen Jenkinson is an activist, author and farmer who now prefers the term practitioner rather than teacher. In this, our third conversation, he explains why the distinction is important and why he quit being a teacher.

We also talk about a question he posed to me a number of years ago when I attended his Orphan Wisdom school that has stuck with me ever since, and continues to provoke new insights into the mysterious ways that our unknown ancestors might be guiding us on our quest for meaning and purpose.

In the second half of the episode we touch on the topic of matrimony and patrimony, which is the subject of his next book. As usual, Stephen has left me with a lot to chew on, and after listening to this conversation a few times I think I’m just being to comprehend what he was getting at, particularly concerning the topic of Patrimony, a word I’m not sure I’d even heard before speaking with him.

As Stephen repeatedly warns us, he offers no comfort, no easy answers, no how-tos. Instead he invites us along as he wonders aloud about what it means to be fully human, how to live and die with dignity and wisdom, and how to become an ancestor worthy of being claimed.

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet