Because of their willingness to ponder the mysteries and sorrow, the sorrows by which our little corner of the world is recognized elsewhere, I am honour bound to pry the little skeleton key out my pocket of reluctance and good judgment, and oil the seized and dusty hinges with the human kindness they have let rain upon this work of mine and, after a few years during which it appeared often that the dream had been dreamt, open the door to the Orphan Wisdom School at least one more time.
I very much appreciate the urgency and the excitement that has accompanied the requests for a new class of the School over the last while. Please allow me to temper that keenness a little: this is not a workshop in any sense, not a retreat at all, surely not an adventure in self-help or self-development or selfhood of any kind. This is work of a particularly stout and mundane and mandatory kind, work in which the travails and torpor of our times will appear and again appear. There are, please know, powerful and persistent adversaries drawn to this work, and they appear in many forms, and they crowd the unexamined thresholds of tolerance and opinion, and they will do so again. Because of this and other things, this School is the kind of work crafted for – and now beginning to be crafted by – elders in training. Our times are endangered surely, and endangering just as much, and there is much work to be done.
Whatever you have read or heard about the Orphan Wisdom School, that and your own many wonders and longings for a saner place in which to plant the little banner of dreams for your coming days will end up having to be reason and information enough by which you’ll wrangle your decision about attending. There’ll be no other descriptions beyond the ones on the Orphan Wisdom site, no other reading lists or prospecti sent out. No allegations about what you’ll learn or become. No certificate. It isn’t much with which to make your call, I’ll grant you, but fool’s gold is a description of something that hasn’t happened yet, something that would be changed in an instant by your decision to attend.
As always, I ask that you commit yourself come what may to the entire first iteration of the school: four sessions, six or so months apart, over two years*. It is the same commitment I make to you, irrevocable and faithful, and it binds us honourably to crafting a better day from our bewilderment and bedraggled dreams. As always, that bewilderment and those dreams are welcome. This new class will gather at our teaching house in the Ottawa Valley in eastern Ontario, Canada. A separate class will gather in Wales, U.K. Would that our endangered and dangerous days be remembered, years from now, as a time when some gathered and rose up and, truant no more, learned their lives. That is where our learning together will begin to be tethered to something vast and thrilled and burdened with purpose.
Stephen Jenkinson, MTS, MSW
Founder and Principal Instructor of The Orphan Wisdom School
*The only fair way we have found to manage registrations is as follows: your place in this new class of the Orphan Wisdom School can only be held and secured by full payment of the tuition for the year. Please read the school registration thoroughly in particular the tuition and refund policy, so there are no misunderstandings.
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