Anthroposophy NYC Blog


(dispatches from social isolation)

First Offerings: Jennifer Green

A Phenomenon as a Parable for Our Time

Jennifer Greene


I often go out to the beach at Seal Harbor on Mount Desert Island on the coast of Maine. It is “my school” where I watch water flowing, with many water flow phenomena. One such water phenomenon that allows me to enter the dynamic mysteries of how forms arise is that of the standing wave, a wave that remains stationary as water flow continuously passes through it.

For a spatial orientation, imagine an old fashioned washboard with a series of ridges and just behind each, a trough. Now imagine this “form” as a pattern of water flow. What becomes immediately obvious is the movement of the water toward the ocean over a very gentle slope of a beach: the water enters the top of the slope and exits at the bottom of the form. When one observes more carefully one sees a waveform remaining stationary in the flowing water. Then one realizes the wave is being constantly formed, out of movement with new substance: “new” water!

This is the way that life works in all creation. Substances change, transform, and thus sustain an organic form that remains largely intact until the substance of life itself withdraws into invisibility.

When this process of forming and moving is inhibited unnaturally and without wisdom, chaos ensues, an instability starts with grave consequences. This can be a metaphor of society at the moment. We see it when that which makes us more fully human, compassionate, and understanding is mocked, and we are belittled as being “weak and not macho.” The striving toward the ideals upon which our country is founded, of what is noble, true, and good, is being attacked at the core through the misuse of language by lying, through plundering nature, and our environment, our home.

The principles of the standing wave can be a metaphor for a healthy society, one where transformation and new forms and beginnings can come about because dialogue is open, good-willed and strives toward our highest ideals for humanity as a whole.

“This photograph, taken by Jim Richardson in 1986 in Scotland, shows a “standing wave” in a stream crossing a sandy beach into the sea” (School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Sydney).


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