The North American Council held the yearly conference this year in the province of Quebec, Canada, at Maison Emmanuel.
I felt so happy to see so many old friends, meet new friends, and to experience the energy of the people and places across the continent: from east to west and all the way to Hawaii! We must have been 80 people!
Val David, where most of the conference was held, is a picturesque and quaint French Canadian village north of Montreal in rocky, hilly terrain. Maison Emmanuel has a home, a craft and coffee shop, all there on the main street. Members of their community work in a pottery nearby. We met in an old church that is next door to the convent a few doors down from Maison Julia and the coffee shop. The convent has recently become a Waldorf School, and the school community was kind enough to let us use the classrooms for the artistic activities. Everything nestles together on the street very nicely!
The weather up there in the Gatineau Hills was rainy and cold! But nothing could dampen our spirits.
Mary Small welcomed us with a wonderful meal created by their café staff, and then she gave a talk on the arts based on a lecture by Carlo Pietzner. I had never really understood that lecture, but I feel that I understand a lot more now thanks to Mary!
We practiced the arts all Saturday… Painting, drama, music, poetry, dance, eurythmy and spatial dynamics… it was fun and exhilarating! I did skip some activities though, because I wanted to spend time with my old friend Inge Sell, who was the founder of Maison Emmanuel. We have known each other for many years and it was beautiful to reconnect. We found we had a lot to share as we talked about our lives and about the changes and growth in the places we started.
On Sunday we met at the Maison Emmanuel farm property where there are several beautiful homes. It was cold and rainy again, and there were too many of us to meet inside one of the large houses for the Sunday gathering, so we met outside! That was an experience!
For me there were many memorable experiences as we celebrated art and community through the time together. One thing in particular stood out for me. Both languages, French and English, were spoken. Everything was shared first in one language and then the other so no one was left out. The quality of listening and the opportunity to live into the other language for a time was very special.
I had a wonderful meaningful time. And I know my friends from Camphill Ontario were smiling the whole weekend.
I am looking forward to next year. Where will we go? What will we talk about and do together?