By Laurence Alfred

Retired Executive Director, Camphill School Aberdeen

January 2021

It’s quite a challenge to summarise all that’s happened in our lives over the last 6 months. Whilst possibilities waned as we progressed into and through lockdown, our smaller inner lives became much more vibrant and dominant. As the world shrank around us, we found ourselves emerged in our microcosmos, living and working in this wonderful place we call home.

Yet what a lot we have learnt from each other in these past months… and how far we have grown together! Bill, Susan, Jack and Peter have been working and living together every day of the week, as their day service remained closed, which has only made their relationships grow stronger! Our home and gardens provided plenty of alternatives to stay busy, giving meaning and purpose to our everyday life. The hills and their splendour – which we barely noticed anymore -became our favourite daily destination, reawakening a sense of gratitude and a thirst for adventure.

Coronavirus has, nonetheless, had a big impact on our lives, just like with everyone else. From mid-March till the end of June life was quite different to before. All of us missed our regular activities such as going to workshops, the gym, school, the pub, meeting friends and family, going to restaurants, cafes, museums, the list is endless. Add to this, the fact that we had to quarantine twice because of unclear tests and symptoms you can only imagine how complicated living with Covid around us, is. However, life went on and we all managed really well to adapt. Daily walks, craft activities, preparing for Halloween, playing games, BBQ’s (lots of them), gardening, water fights, playing music, watching movies, experimenting with haircuts and Thursday night NHS clapping were just some of the activities we did.

By the end of the summer, we had a new norm – we’d buy more disinfectant than Nutella, we’d have people joining meals and celebrations through an iPad, and PPE was part of our everyday attire. Before we knew it, we were living a new kind of life, in a new kind of community. We’d found our way. Our home is a happy vibrant place, where something is always happening. We enjoy cinema in the comfort of our living room, there’s always live music and crafty activities to enjoy. Mary, Lizzy, Chris, and Scott have all become expert gardeners – we’ve plenty to celebrate and be thankful for.

Through being there for each other and sharing these stretching times we have managed to continue to make lasting memories in the household. The evenings are filled with the little ones zooming through on roller skates and filling the house with wonderful piano music whilst peaceful newly born Mark is smiling in the background! Michael enjoys ‘house band’ concerts with Clarinet, Drums, Guitar and Colin’s singing! (not quite Usher Hall but we manage!). Samantha has made a couple of appearances on local radio and continues to find joy and laughter in her new day to day activities despite everything and she’s really enjoyed getting to know our new co-workers! And then there is Brian who keeps us all grounded through his help with cooking and evening relaxation with classical radio.

Between the fits of giggles after supper to reminiscing about past memories, there is always a smile to be seen around the house. In August we waved goodbye to the co-workers who stuck with us through a rollercoaster of changing times as we warmly opened our doors to our new co-workers who quickly made themselves right at home. We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to all the people, who decided against all odds, risks, and warnings to come and share a year of their lives with us, in this very different world we’re living in. We are also incredibly thankful to those dear friends from previous years who returned throughout 2020 to support us when times were challenging.

We wish everyone inner light and warmth through the darkening days of Autumn as we look forward to the day when these things can be shared in person again.

With thanks for colleagues of all ages in Camphill, and in particular those in Tiphereth Camphill in Edinburgh for the inspiration behind this blog, who share their vibrant life with me.