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To Spring from the Hand: A Celebration of Paulus Berensohn

Photograph and collage by True Kelly

Our neighbor, artist, dancer, and sage Paulus Berensohn recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and the Penland community celebrated with him. A Saturday afternoon birthday party on the porch at Northlight featured delicious cake and champagne, and an effusive outpouring of loving and grateful toasts to a man whose gentleness and generosity have inspired so many. The gathering was followed by the first American screening of Australian filmmaker Neil Lawrence’s new documentary To Spring From the Hand: The Life and Work of Paulus Berensohn. (Another screening took place later in the week at the Fine Arts Theatre in Asheville, bringing the film to a wider audience.)


Screening the film "To Spring from the Hand: The Life and Work of Paulus Berensohn" at Northlight.
Screening the film “To Spring from the Hand: The Life and Work of Paulus Berensohn” at Northlight.


Afterwards, the group walked together up to the head of Penland’s new hiking trail, the Paulus Path, for a dedication ceremony where Paulus buried an unfired clay bowl filled with flowers (returning his unfired clay works to the earth in this manner has long been a central part of Paulus’s artistic and spiritual practice) in the ground beneath the path. Heads were bowed, hands were held, tears were shed and hugs exchanged as he recited poetry celebrating nature, placed the bowl into a hole dug by volunteers from the assembled community, and then buried it by hand in the earth.


Paulus dedicating a bowl to be offered to the earth at the opening of a new hiking trail named in his honor.


Happy birthday, Paulus! We love you, and hope your compassionate, contemplative spirit continues to infuse the very ground we walk here at Penland forever.

Burying the ceremonial bowl.