Two months from now, I will be heading to the old Kilbey place, the home of the Orphan Wisdom School for the fifth time in the last eighteen months.
Compared to many of you reading this, I’m probably relatively new to StephenJenkinson (I usually say it in one breath, no space between),.
In August 2021, in a cesspool of being canceled, having my “communities” of breathwork and yoga and birth ravaged by gender politics and germ + terrain theory debates and a loss of a common view of reality as well as having many personal relationships threadbare or gone, Matthew Stillman suggested I speak to you know who- yep, StephenJenkinson.
That first conversation became a second, became a series of five, became a book, became me (reluctantly) becoming a scholar, became us on the road reckoning, became multiple day “teaching” together. And for now, this June 29 – July 2nd Reckon + Wonder at the Farm is the last thing we have on the books.
If I were you, I would be skeptical.
I’ve had teachers who suddenly co-teach, or at least it felt sudden.
After years of traveling to study with them, the proposition changed, and I wasn’t into it. At all.
The two teachers I’m thinking of were men, and they started teaching with their wives.
I gave it a try, going to workshops and trainings that the newly formed professional “team” was teaching together. In both cases, the collaboration felt like it was more about them wanting to be together than about what the students would receive or learn. The teachings felt diluted and weakened.
I would sit, half eye-rolling, tolerating the times their new co-teachers spoke, waiting for them to get finished, to get back to what my real teachers had to say.
So yeah, when SJ can pace, conduct, channel and divine the way he does, and he does, why would you want to come to see us or be with us together? Why would you sit through whatever it is that I might have to say to get back to what he has to say?
It’s bold, unwise and perhaps even inelegant for me now to mount a case about why our collaboration might be different.
But here goes.
Well, for one, I’m not his wife. (There’s only one Nathalie Roy!)
And I’m not going to tell you that I can do what he does. For that is certainly not true.
I come from a different country, the US.
I am a woman. I am a feminist, however troubled and saddled that label has become. I am a mother.
I use the words “healing,” “wild,” “future,” and “feminine,” on a regular basis. Like multiple times daily.
All of these differences don’t make us opposites or adversaries.
I’m not trying to meet SJ on an intellectual level.
We don’t shy away from the tensions that lie within our different nationalities, genders, and entry points to our work in the world.
We don’t know each other well enough to ask canned questions and provoke anticipated answers.
So it’s live and it’s real and it’s human.
“punk rock for the somatic conversations people are afraid to have”
I am getting eldered in real time. I feel that should be whispered or discovered or not written so boldly out here like this. But if I don’t tell you, how will you know if you don’t decide to step closer to what happens between us?
For all the folks who show up wanting the eldering playbook- wanting to know the ‘how to’ of dealing with the absence of elders, “how” do we find an elder or the most popular, “how” to become an elder…
I am getting publicly eldered, and in turn those who are there are also potentially apprenticing to that mystery.
Sometimes I sit and listen the whole time. My voice doesn’t explicitly appear, but I am no less there.
Sometimes a question is asked that is clearly directed to SJ and he looks at me and says, “this is definitely for you,” and I look back like “no way” and he looks back and nods again, and I take a deep breath, and I start talking about what I do not know about marriage or death or commitment or compromise.
Sometimes I laugh when he says things like “I don’t think I’ve ever recommended becoming more comfortable.” Because I definitely have- pleasure as a pathway to healing is a part of the work I do in the world.
And often I cry feeling my own grief and the grief that fills the rooms we gather in.
One person said: It’s like StephenJenkinson is on the other side of a hill, and you are on this side, the same side that I’m on. It’s as if he’s made his choices of how to deal with the troubles of the world, and you are still choosing.
Yes, I am square in something like midlife, and I am looking at an ever-growing hill.
I’m being eldered by someone whose whole thing is endings and finality and am incredibly present to the fact that our collaboration will end, and it won’t be announced to me ahead of time.
This is your invitation to join us- on behalf of that hill.