Wholeness Week at Living Wisdom High School of Palo Alto

At Living Wisdom High School in Palo Alto, CA, we start each year with Wholeness Week. Students and teachers come together on day one for an orientation. Then, bright and early the next day, we depart for our first immersive experience of the year. The priority on this trip is building connections with one another and experiencing the Living Wisdom culture within which we will all be learning together in the coming months.

This fall, we loaded into three vans with the school logo, “Where Learning & Joy Come Together,” printed along the side and headed for the hills, specifically the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Ananda Village. Lively conversations, adventures, service projects, and heart-opening experiences punctuated the following three days. Ananda Living Wisdom School at the Village hosted us in two classrooms on their beautiful nature campus. Friends of Education for Life supported this group of teens (and their grateful teachers) with delicious meals, opportunities to serve, and workshops on woodworking and Sharing Nature. 

At the heart of every immersive trip are two qualities: Adventure and Service. 

What is it that teens need almost as much as the air in their lungs? Adventure and challenge! To that end, we explored the Yuba River. One evening, close to midnight, found us out on a former hydraulic mining field playing a rousing game of Capture the Flag by the light of an almost full moon. 

Palo Alto LWS Wholeness trip

And service! …that way of being that expands one’s sense of self beyond the limiting confines of one’s personality to feel a growing oneness with all that is. While service certainly can look like organized projects and activities, and we had a dynamic and joyful morning serving alongside the “green team” in the Crystal Hermitage Gardens, service is also a way of being that weaves itself into all aspects of life. Frequently at LWHS, you’ll hear students ask the questions, “What is needed?” and “How can I help?” This spirit of joyful willingness elevates any activity from drudgery to delight. Throughout Wholeness Week, these young people were full of smiles as they weeded in the garden, cooked our meals, cleaned up after themselves, or led games for the young children of our sister school. 

We say that Living Wisdom is a place where learning and joy come together, and it is true! The smiles and warm-hearted community are a testament to what is possible when competition is replaced by cooperation, and when willingness, enthusiasm, and selfless service are the common currency of exchange. What a blessing for students, teachers, and families to be learning to see life as a grand adventure and an endless opportunity to be of service to all whom we meet. This truly is an education for life!