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  • Gabriel Vieira

Closing the Container


What’s happening in school this week?

There's a lot stirring in me this grey, rainy morning. The cherry and plum outside are filling the view from our kitchen window with pink and white blossoms, almost obscenely romantic and delightful. A short walk upstream, a friend and elder is living out what may turn out to be his final days on earth. And the first ever session of The Village School, this six month exploration of birth, death, and everything in between, is coming to an end.


What can I say, to wrap it all up, to close the book on this introductory chapter? I'm still in it, of course, and so I can't yet look back at it with the wisdom and clarity that comes with time and distance. And so, I'll begin with gratitude.


I am thankful to my wife eli, for her patience and forbearance at the upheaval that the launching of this school has caused in our lives, and for her loving support and wise counsel as I have struggled through doubts, anxieties, and difficult decisions. Our love, and our life together, has been the vessel that has enabled me to embark on this voyage, and our home has been the nest in which the school was able to grow its feathers and find its voice.


I am thankful also to all of the parents who have put their trust in me, to be their children's teacher, mentor, and friend. I have been supported and empowered to take these kids to places that many parents would not dream of allowing their children to go. I have been given free rein to experiment, make mistakes, try crazy things, and bring my whole heart and self to these children's education. May I be worthy always of that precious trust.


And I am deeply thankful to the Village which has given rise to this Village School. It's hard to describe exactly what that Village is, like a glimmer on the horizon, or the overarching pattern in a flock of migratory birds. Certainly, it includes the labor and effort of all the people who have lived here and cleared and tended the land, built the buildings, and sat through God-only-knows how many meetings to envision and hold the space for the way of life that we are creating together. It includes the land itself, the plants and animals, food crops and fruit trees, wooded hillsides and stream banks and springs, squirrels and raccoons and deer and songbirds, and so many others who make their home here and teach the children how to live as a creature of the world. If our home and our family has been the nest, the Village has been the forest, source of all nourishment, inspiration, and meaning to the life of the School.


As for myself and my own life, I am deeply grateful for the discovery of my vocation, and the persistent support provided by the universe as I have stepped into it. I am deeply indebted to Erin Boehme, Lia Grippo, and Kelly Villaruel, who gently yet firmly informed me that I am a teacher, and there is nothing I can do about it. I have been teaching for half my life (forever after, it will be more than half), and I am indebted to all the teachers and mentors I have had during that time; to Wavy Gravy and Jahanarah Romney, Zappo, Robert Greygrass, Silver Morningstar, Jose and Jennifer Garcia, Jesse Myerson, Derek Smith, Mrs. Wolfe, Mr. Merrill, Ms. Lee, Stefanie, Chelsea, and many, many others. And of course, to my parents, Claudia and Bud Vieira, my first, longest, and greatest teachers. From all of you, I learned how to teach, and, more importantly, how to love and believe in myself. Thank you.


And, of course, I am grateful for the children. To witness your lives, your growth and development at this precious, tender, and fruitful time, that is enough. To have your trust, to share in your humor and your hurt, is to be blessed beyond measure. To watch you grow in awareness and understanding of the fraught and perilous condition of this precious world that you love so much is heartbreaking, and certainly the most demanding and important work I will ever do. I wish with all my heart that I had more to offer you, a more whole and healthy inheritance to bestow, and I pray that what we create together is enough, for our Village, and for the world.


The voyage is coming to an end. We've made our gifts, we'll be presenting them tomorrow, and then we'll be released, for two short weeks, into the budding springtime to relax and explore and regroup. When we start up again, the School will be in anew home, a new nest, a new place, some new kids. The rhythms will be familiar, much will stay the same, but we'll also be having a fresh start. I'm looking forward to it.


And so, I'll close with a song, from Jose Joaquin Garcia, teacher, mentor, and friend. Hope you're feeling good right now Jose! I don't know if you wrote this song or not, but every time I think of it I hear it in your voice. Thank you.


The heart speaks a soft voice

Like chocolate melting ice cream

Tells me that the world is sometimes not safe

But your voice

Like my Grandma's wrinkled face

Tells me to make the world a better place

The voices

Of my ancestors beating through my heart

Guide my steps

Through the story of my life

The story of my life

The story of my life...




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