We shall never cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
– T.S. Eliot
The words of T.S. Eliot, recited by Mother Margaret Georgina, gave perspective as CELC students began their Tuesday at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT. A special place and part of our lives at CELC, The Abbey was introduced to our learning community years ago through none other than Rob and Sally (a.k.a. Rob and Sally Cole-Whiffen) who, curious about rare breed cattle, heard a story about this related to the Dutch Belted breed raised by the sisters at the Abbey!
Our students now visit as a community service project, tending to gardens, working in the sheep pastures, or whatever task might be needed. Always, we learn much as we work and experience this loving place.
Our work included harvesting kale, chard, cabbage, and carrots, and spending time in the blacksmith shop with Mother Anastasia. This shop still has the original structures from the early 19th century, combined with some modern touches. Students were given a demonstration of the process and then got to try for themselves; using the bellows to heat metal in the forge, each made his own curved S-hook.
Here is a sampling of the students’ impressions of the day:
“We got to taste the carrots after all the work we did. They tasted really good. After we had lunch, we got to run around a big field. We played hide-n-seek, but that didn’t last too long, so we just ran around and explored the wide-open space.”
“The Abbey. A place where silence becomes your friend. As you work in hushed voices, you can join a whole different world as you set your mind free.”
“A nun this morning read us all a quote from a T.S. Eliot poem. It was about discovery. Something like ‘your journey is not complete until you have reached the beginning of your journey again.’ I think it means that you have to go on a journey to discover something new, and then in order to complete your journey, you have to go back to where you started.
That quote is supposed to go with our theme of exploration and discovery. I think it does because it is about going on a journey to explore something, and then returning to the start of your journey.