Radical and Relevant Blog

April 2016

In Honour of Virginia Smith

Our dear colleague, friend and alumni, Virginia Smith died this past weekend. We are saddened to have to say goodbye to her so soon. Virginia was a well respected mentor in our Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers part-time program and taught in our Summer Festival of Arts and Education. She will be missed here as she will by her friends far and wide. We send our blessings to her, her family, friends, students and peers. Her colleagues at the Calgary Waldorf School shared these fitting sentiments with their school community:

Dear Friends of the Calgary Waldorf School:

On behalf of all of us on the Faculty, Staff, and Board at the school, we are writing to you this afternoon to confirm for you and share with you in the saddest of news. Many of you will already know that our beloved friend, teacher, and colleague Virginia Smith died this past weekend. After many years of struggles with a number of difficulties and heart-breaks in her life, Virginia chose to take her own life at the end of last week. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go to everyone who grieves our loss of her. We want you to have this “Intercessory Prayer” (by Adam Bittleston) which we have been reading together this week to send our love, hope, and peace to our dearest Virginia.

Thou angel who keepest watch
Over the destiny of Virginia
Through the waking and sleeping,
And the long ages of time:
May our thoughts, filled with hope,
Reach Virginia through thee.
May she be strengthened
From the founts of will
Which bear us towards freedom.
May she be illumined
From the founts of wisdom
Which warm the inmost heart.
May she feel peace
From the founts of love
Which bless our work.

Virginia joined the Faculty of our Calgary Waldorf School in September of 1995. In these past 20 years, she has been a leading and steadfast light in our community. Virginia has filled virtually all of the key roles in our school, including Class Teacher, Interim Pedagogical Administrator, Teacher Mentor, Teacher Evaluator, Division Chair, Faculty Council member, Board member, member of Faculty committees and Board committees, leader of many faculty professional development/teacher training series, and speaker/workshop leader at many adult education events. Throughout her two-decade tenure at our school, Virginia has been the embodiment of a striving Waldorf teacher. As a true “Server of the Light”, Virginia’s deep and enduring commitment to our students, our parents, her colleagues, our school, and our community has been a gift to us all which will continue to resonate throughout the whole lifetime of our school. She has touched and will continue to touch so many lives with her compassion, intelligence,
insights, creativity, and clarity. As I write this, I have a picture in my mind of Virginia’s glow.

Our deepest condolences, affection, and thankfulness go from all of us to Virginia’s family. And we also hold Jack Searchfield – Virginia’s partner in life and teaching for so many years – very closely in our hearts, with much love. Each of us will miss Virginia terribly and in so many ways.

At the school, we have heard this afternoon from Virginia’s family about the details of the service which they will be holding this week to remember and honour Virginia. Everyone is very welcome to attend the memorial service on Thursday, April 14th at 3:00 pm at Scarboro United Church (134 Scarboro Avenue SW). A reception will follow the service, at the church, up until about 5:30 pm, which everyone is also very welcome to attend. Please know that the school will be sending flowers to the church, for Virginia’s family, on behalf of everyone in our school community. Also, many of the CWS faculty and staff will be singing at either the service or at the reception...

In losing Virginia, we know that everyone’s heart is breaking. All of us here on Faculty, Staff, and Board join you in this profound grief and sadness. At the same time, we are so grateful for all the expressions of love and care which are constantly pouring toward Virginia, her family, Jack, and the school. We’ll close this letter to you with a poem, “In Blackwater Woods”, by Mary Oliver (one of Virginia’s favourite poets), which we know Virginia has turned to for many years, in order to find solace, wisdom, and the way forward.

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Yours in thankfulness and community,
Cathie Foote, School Administrator
Kathy Brunetta, Pedagogical Administrator
Mary Wyatt Sindlinger, President of the Board of Directors


2 Comments
  

  Jun 01, 2016 18:52PM
nancy@whistlerwaldorf.com

  Jun 01, 2016 18:55PM
Nancy Rose

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