After each of our Reggio Emilia and Ligonchio Atelier experiences in Italy, we were asked to make a personal reflection and suggest one word to express the learning within the experience.
The feeling of the word 'present' began as I gazed across the Apennine mountain region of Ligonchio, over the hills and valleys.
The double-entendre of the word 'present' lead me to consider, first, the experience I am having is a 'gift'. As I have unwrapped each magical layer of wrapping paper, I have received a message which furthers my learning and knowing. Joy, Inspiration, Community, Appreciation, Possibility, Openness are some of the packaged discoveries I have received so far. I am saving the next layers to be opened after I observe others, Keri and our international friends, openning their gifts. Just as on Christmas morning, I am able to wait, watch and find joy and sheer pleasure as I watch, listen and make connections with my own personal thoughts. At the same time we develop a shared thinking, offering stories to each other as we give and receive.
The second meaning of the word 'present' rings loud and clear to me. After spending a long while photographing butterflies and bees as I sat among the thistles, I had a keen awareness of how crucial it is to take time to be in the moment and be open and available to anything. Watching and waiting 'in the moment' helped me to discover what to do next. I visited and revisited those butterflies as I tried to consider how to make my 'learning visible'. I had been using photography and video but the gift of time and deep concentration moved me to find paper and pen. Not being certain how to draw what I was seeing, I moved closer. Before long the thistle was casting it's shadow on my paper.
I noticed each leaf's sharp edge. I was struck at that moment with the harmony in nature that I was witnessing. Although the thistles appeared harsh and I had a pre-conceived notion that they do not belong in areas where children play, due to their painful edging; I was lead to see their beauty and necessity in the ecosystem. The bees and butterflies moved in rhythm alongside each other, sometimes sharing the same purple flower, sometimes moving to their own. I witnessed constant movement of the soft and gentle butterflies, as they danced among their life giving plant partners, the thistles.
It was clear at that moment. I placed the paper under a thistle and as the wind gently rustled the thistle, I was able to trace it's pointed leaves and long graceful stems. After repositioning and taking a different view point, I was able to capture the shadow of a butterfly in motion as it moved around my sketched thistle plant. I watched, waited, considered and questioned alongside a co-observer with an equally evolving passion or need to stay close to what we were witnessing.
My word is 'present'. It will be imperative for me to remember this moment as I sit immersed within this Italian community for a time and as I transition home!