Letter from Philip Thatcher

Letter from Philip Thatcher

Dear Friends,

We began our January weekend meeting of the Council and Class Holders by taking up the theme and mood of the interval. The space between the notes in a piece of music, between the lines in a poem, between the curves in a piece of sculpture or the spaces that make a work of architecture a human place—these are where art and life happen, where earthly substance holds back and spiritual substance can enter in. And space is never space only, but also time holding back or space at the edge of movement. Bearing these qualities of space and time, the interval is where life between human beings can come to birth.

During our meeting, the reality of the interval became not only content but also the practice of listening between the words spoken by the other, of giving the other space to speak, of making spaces in our own speaking. In reviewing the weekend we were concerned both with what we had considered and how we had provided or failed to provide the spaces needed for a true conversation.

Fear deprives us of intervals. Fear shrinks space and collapses time; fear cramps words together and deprives us of the intervals needed to make good choices out of ourselves and to be aware of those our choices affect. Fear induces panic, pushes our wills forward or retards their movement, yet leaves no room to come to conscious willing—one rendering of the closing lines of the Foundation Stone Meditation.

When the General Secretaries met last November at the Goetheanum, a subtext that ran through our conversations was the resolve to overcome fear by penetrating as far as possible the issues facing our Society and our world. Here again intervals made their presence felt. When, for instance, we considered some of the original tasks of Anthroposophical Society—unveiling a Christology for humanity, out of an understanding of the etheric Christ; the significance of karma and reincarnation for the individual and mankind; meeting the “being of Anthroposophy” in the Society; entering into both the Michael school and cultus—it struck me that Rudolf Steiner left something of the task of the Society between the lines, for each of us to discover in our work together now.

In the days before the Council and Class Holders’ weekend, I travelled to the Eastern Townships in Quebec. After the weekend I went on to Kingston and then to Toronto, for a Parzival weekend hosted by Regine Kurek and her colleagues at Arscura, Regine’s long standing art therapy training initiative. The conversations that ensued ranged from the wish to find new and true forms for Society work in the Eastern Townships, to understanding ourselves as human beings in our time, in Kingston. Those of us who came together to penetrate the story of Parzival did so out of the mood of discovering it as a pathway in the Michael age. In both Montreal and Toronto, I witnessed two fine presentations out of the Foundation Stone Meditation—in Montreal by a group of members and friends under the guidance of Hélène Besnard and at the Toronto Waldorf School by the Northern Star Eurythmy group, who are preparing to bring their work to the Encircling Light Conference next August.

During my travels many members and friends cared for me, among them Colin Rioux-Beausejour and Karen Liedl, Jacques Racine, Francois Dostie, Paul Décarie, Diane-Huguette Beausejour, Kris Colwell, Tammy Caldwell, Nancy MacMillan, Willem and Marie-Claire Joubert, Michel Bourassa, Denis Schneider, and Regine Kurek and Jef Saunders. Throughout those days, the awareness of intervals kept our conversations alive.

In mid-February I went to Whitehorse. It was snowing when I landed; then the weather cleared to days of bright clear skies and minus 30 degrees every night. On that first evening I met with Joe Bishop, a singer/song writer who has lived in the Yukon for twenty years, worked as a wilderness guide, and who, with other local musicians, will highlight the closing evening of the Encircling Light Conference. After a meal together, we sat in the Alpine Bakery, courtesy of Suat Tuzlak, while Peter the baker prepared for the following day. Joe took out his guitar and for the next hour he shared his songs with Peter and me. Lyrics from one of them will serve to bring this letter to a close:

Take any book

go to page seventeen

don’t read the print

read what’s in between

In between the lines

in between the words

everybody’s got a story

waiting to be heard

With good greetings as the light returns to us,

Philip Thatcher
General Secretary