The Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence & Practice
In the Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice Program, we are preparing for a deep psychic shift in the culture at large – one educator at a time. We believe that the change that is needed in our time cannot be achieved through sweeping movements, curriculum change, or further exchange of information.
This is a new form of working with educators based on the assumption that a shift in consciousness within the educational realm will come only through an inner transformation of the educator, through an honoring of the soul/spirit of the educator as a core value, and through the creation of a community of educators who support and inspire one another on the threshold of a new consciousness for our time – a consciousness that moves us beyond a view of the natural world as a collection of objects to be used into an experience of the natural world as a communion of subjects.
We work with an integral process that weaves together presence with Earth, contemplation for deeper understanding, the creation of practices in the world, and giving voice to our practices so that they might be shared with others and enter the new cultural coding so needed in our time. We take great care to honor this fourfoldness and seek always an integration of these four pathways.
In an atmosphere of trust and soul welcoming, we create a meaningful context for the Inner Life program by paying close attention to the rhythm of the day. Retreats begin with a moment of silence intended to quiet the mind and create a field of receptivity for the group. Our retreats include solo time in the natural world, time for reflection and sharing, the fellowship of shared meals at lunch, and presentations related to the theme at hand.
Every year the Center accepts a new class of up to twelve participants into “The Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice” program. The group is composed of teachers, parents, child psychologists, guidance counselors, religious educators, child care providers, naturalists, college professors, and others who indicate a deep interest in nurturing a relationship between the inner life of the child/young adult and the natural world.
Center Director Peggy Whalen-Levitt has been with the Center since its beginnings in 2000. Working closely with Center Founder Carolyn Toben and cultural historian Thomas Berry, Peggy has been deeply engaged in the formation of a work for adults and children that cultivates an “I-Thou” relationship between human beings and the natural world. She holds a Ph.D. in Language in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she co-created a concentration in Childhood Imagination. Peggy is the editor of Chrysalis, the Center journal, and Only the Sacred: Transforming Education in the Twenty-first Century, a Chrysalis reader. She edited the Center’s Emergence Series in 2015 and shepherds the Center’s program for educators, “The Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice.” Peggy has an abiding interest in working collaboratively with soul and spirit in small organizations through deep listening and presence to what is calling from the future. As Director, Peggy is liaison to the Educator Council Board.
Andrew Levitt holds a BA in English from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He trained as a mime with Marcel Marceau and with Paul J. Curtis at The American Mime Theatre. Andrew performed and taught mime professionally for over thirty years and then helped found the high school at the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC where he taught Humanities and directed theater for seven years. Andrew co-created a performance piece, “The Meadow Across the Creek: Words from Thomas Berry” for the Thomas Berry Centennial and is the author of All the Scattered Leaves of the Universe: Journey and Vision in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Work of Thomas Berry, published by the Center in the Fall of 2015, and Heron Mornings, published by the Center in the Fall of 2017. As Dr. Merryandrew, he currently works as a clown doctor in the Pediatric unit at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, NC. Andrew is a graduate of The Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program, class of 2008.
Colette Segalla is a psychotherapist in private practice in Raleigh, NC. She approaches psychotherapy with clients from a perspective informed by her ongoing work with the Center. In areas addressed during the therapeutic process, Colette recognizes the interconnectedness of life and the sacred relationship between human beings and the natural world. Her work with clients is particularly focused on relationships – both inner relating within the self, and interpersonal relationships. Colette completed her PhD at Pacifica Graduate Institute where the mission is “animae mundi colendae gratia” which means tending the soul of and in the world. Colette was very drawn to this mission and found a deep resonance between Pacifica and the work of The Center. Her participation in the Inner Life of the Child in Nature program at CEINW coincided with her graduate studies and became central to her doctoral research. Before returning to graduate school, Colette was an AMI certified Montessori teacher in a lower elementary classroom of six-to-nine-year-old children. The work of Steiner and Montessori contributed to her Jungian-based exploration of children's spirituality and how a relationship with the natural world contributes to the child's development of a sense of self. Colette is the author of I am You, You are Me: The Interrelatedness of Self, Spirituality and the Natural World in Childhood, published by the Center in the Fall of 2015. She is a graduate of The Inner Life of the Child in Nature program, class of 2008 and has served on the Educator Council since 2010.
The Inner Life of the Child in Nature: Presence and Practice Application
We are now accepting applications for the Inner Life of the Child in Nature program, 2019-2021 with a deadline of October 1, 2019.
Dates: Retreats will be held from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday, November 23, 2019, February 8, 2020 and March 28, 2020 and on Tuesday/Wednesday, June 23-24, 2020. The second year includes Practice Gatherings on Sunday, October 18, 2020 (2:00-5:00 pm) and Sunday, February 7, 2021 (10:00 am – 4:00 pm). Our graduation retreat is on Sunday, June 27, 2021 from 2:00 – 7:00 pm.
The Inner Life of the Child in Nature Program is an in-depth process of inner development and group sharing. A contemplative practice of presence to the natural world is cultivated during the first year of the program, as well as a practice of reflective reading of related materials and journal writing. We request that participants make a commitment to attend every session during the first year of the program and complete readings and assignments prior to each retreat.
Cost: $750 for the two- year program (includes materials, lunch and individual consultations)
Location: Timberlake Earth Sanctuary, 1501 Rock Creek Dairy Rd. Whitsett, NC
Please complete and submit the online form below, or download and print a hard-copy of the form, available here, and mail it to the Center at P.O. Box 41108, Greensboro, NC, 27404. Upon acceptance to the program, a non-refundable deposit of $250 will be due two weeks from your acceptance date. Your balance of $500 will be due by November 15, 2019. Payment plans for the balance are available upon request.