2016 Kindness Ripples At SF Waldorf High
Posted by Isabel on Sep 10, 2016
On August 29th, I had the amazing opportunity of joining the Kindness Team that visited the San Francisco Waldorf High School. I graduated from the Waldorf School only a year ago, so it was incredible to experience the Kindness Circle from the other side.
When I was a senior, the Kindness Team came to hold their second Kindness Circle at the Waldorf School. I can easily say that this team of wonderful, beautiful people changed my life and way of living forever. From them, I learned a new way of interacting with the world around me: the way of kindness and service; and I was so deeply touched when I ran into Audrey at Karma Kitchen last month, and she invited me to join the team!
The group of eleven exceptional volunteers arrived early in the morning at the school after traveling from many far away places. We even had a couple join us from London! After a brief meditation and sharing we went out to join the students. Anne magically provided a dynamic schedule, which was both busy and engaging, but somehow not rushed in the slightest. She also brought a beautiful Asian pear tree to brighten the campus, a gesture which students and teachers alike deeply appreciated.
I cannot express how inspiring it was to see the moods and attitudes of the seniors transform, and their smiles grow as the day went by, knowing the same feeling that had happened to me two years ago, and that has lasted permanently. Students zipped around the campus handing out exquisite flowers to each freshman, then gathered into separate groups to practice radical kindness on the streets of West Portal.
There were three crews: the Inner to Outer Sanitation group, who swept the streets together, the Sticky Note people, who wrote kind, inspiring, anonymous notes and stuck them to cars, windows etc, and lastly the Free Hugs group!
Ani and Hemant, who traveled all the way from London, were gracious enough to share the moments which they found most powerful, on the West Portal excursions:
"Hemant was incredibly moved during the breakout activity when he was with a few of the others, including Audrey (a senior at the Waldorf High school), tagging people with kindness. They saw an elderly lady walking, well almost shuffling as she took tiny steps, on her way to the hairdresser. Audrey started talking with her then gently held her arm lovingly as they both slowly walked towards the hairdresser. Hemant was especially touched by the patient and loving manner in which Audrey walked at the same pace, all the while listening deeply until they got to the hairdresser. This was a selfless act in loving kindness.
"An elderly lady waited for the bus to arrive as I swept some leaves by the bus stand. I noticed she was quietly observing the three young students also near the bus stand who were holding signs which read "Free Hugs". After a while, the three students moved away into the other road then the lady asked me, "Who were they and what were they doing?" I explained they were from the school across the road and were simply wanting to share kindness by offering free hugs. She paused for a moment, then totally surprised me by giving me a tight and long hug, saying, "Oh! I didn't hug them, so I'll give you a hug instead!" She carried on talking about how the world needs more kindness, how people can smile more at each other. It really made me smile big."
After such enthused, hands-on kindness around the neighborhood, the day came neared to the end with a reflective writing exercise. Anne described:
"An activity we started last year has grown into a beautiful ritual: at the end of our day, we asked the students to write an intention for the year. We then collect the student’s intentions and hold onto them all year (meditating on their intentions and holding the students) until we return in May to hold a gratitude circle and at that time we return their intentions and hear their reflections. This year, the students lovingly put so much care and attention into writing and hand decorating their intentions."
At the end of the day the Kindness Team and seniors shared a tasty meal of curry and naan together; a special closing. All in all, the day was beyond what my words can describe, and I know that it brought a warm, beautiful light into everyone's heart.
I know this light will last a long, long time.