Blog Post: Angelique Michaels, Trainee Leader, Indigenous Knowledge Leadership Program.
This month we, the leaders in training for Return to Origin’s signature program, had the opportunity to facilitate our own youth-nature connection day at Silvermine Nature Reserve, Western Cape, with children from the Vryground underserved community in Cape Town.
The day consolidated, in me, the importance and beauty of the work inspired by this program and my own resolve to leave behind something of import and value. Our mentor, Mbali Marais, reminded us to place the children at the centre of our imagination and intent for the day planned and as such we were encouraged to open our hearts to them, while maintaining what she referred to as the boundaries necessary for a respectable and untangled relationship.
Drawing on the teachings on matters and machinations of the heart, I felt aware of my own heart’s ability to either shield itself or open up, to act in weakness or in strength, to be clear or conflicted, and thus, when asked to love, I felt more able to do so, than I formerly would have, because a clearer image of what it means to love the self and other, is beginning to take shape in my mind. It was in casting aside my own self-importance and acting in service of others, I had a glimpse of what I think constitutes sacred leadership and through it, to experience the vitality that commitment to something that really matters. Through the games and activities formulated, we touched on the tracking, listening and sensing that form part of the teachings and practices extended to us through this program and as such, solidifying its applicability to societal contexts and youth initiatives. With an already instinctual understanding of and sensitivity to nature, the children took to the exercises with uninhibited ease and the connection was one not to be established, but rather realised. The experience nourished in me this growing awareness of the instinctual and unconquerable wildness in everyone and the importance of awakening the inherent wild, while keeping it within a healthy boundary or framework. And in being present and authentic I felt able to connect and give heart and self, which is all I can hope to do in all the places and spaces within which I find myself.
There seems to be something in allowing the self to be immersed in and enveloped by nature that draws out and calls forth sometimes unknown or latent aspects of our own essential make up, and through this month’s youth initiative and the fieldtrips and teachings hosted in natural contexts, I cannot help, but feel parts of myself perhaps formerly unacknowledged or unexpressed, find a sense of vitality and belonging. And it seems to be only within these moments, when I listen and lend self and heart, that I feel complete.
" When children and nature are reunited -the natural world is more deeply valued and protected." Richard Louv. Please join us to continue the work and donate. www.returntorigin.org.za. We cannot do this work without you.