|St. Lucia Day.|
So this might be the start of a series....I hope this will be the start of the series, but I make no promises about that. But I would like to (for my benefit as well as your edification!) acknowledge the fact that my thoughts are largely not my own, but rather a swirled up stew of the very best bits of some of the very best people and experiences that God has blessed me with. I have so often been surrounded with really brilliant, lovely, thinking people and found myself awed and touched by the many gifts they have brought to my life. So, I'll start today with my Waldorf friends....
If you don't know what a Waldorf-style education is, you should. Like anything in life, there are some aspects of it that don't really sit well with me and my understanding of God, creation and children - but that's to be expected....anything made by man is by necessity flawed. But here's a little link for you to get some basic understanding: http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/02_W_Education/faq_about.asp . One of the best things about Waldorf education is the toys and crafty stuff - check out www.bellalunatoys.com, www.ourseasonsofjoy.com (really lovely preschool curriculum written by my brilliant friend, Annette), www.magiccabindolls.com, and www.waldorfsupplies.com (just to name a few) for some really lovely play and create things.
But it's the gentleness of it that really speaks to me lately - the idea that each child, each person takes time and space and guidance to unfold like a lovely flower opening. And that each bud and flower is different, thus each child has sincere, individual needs that can only be discovered and met by close, consistent and careful listening. That learning is a gentle process of first self-discovery (what can I do for myself, what can I accomplish, what beauty can I contribute?) and then a process of understanding how the self fits into the community (how can my gifts by used to help and serve, how can my accomplishments benefit others, how can my creativity be a gift to others?). And that children should be surrounded with natural, beautiful things - objects that are close to the way that God made them, that are full of imaginative potential, that have many uses, that stretch the mind, that encourage loving and communitarian play.
And these thoughts are all such a far cry from the way that our flashy, cartoony, high-pressure American culture would bend and push us to raise our kids....with the mindset that they must excel, they must win, they must achieve, they must fit in, they must meet this standard at this time (obviously, I'm painting this with broad strokes...but, stereotypes are based in fact....). And if your child fits all that and thrives in that, good for you and for them.....my kids don't (we found this out by trying on K12 cyberschool for size this year.....a great program - for someone else!).
I'll end with an example.....December 13 is St. Lucia's Day which we celebrated this year for the first time (another Waldorf bonus - lots of fun holidays and traditions to celebrate!). St Lucia was a Sicilian saint (which makes it an interesting question as to why she is so popular in Scandinavia.....but, I digress) who is celebrated, in part, because of her commitment to caring for members of the early Christian church who, under persecution, were hiding in catacombs. She is traditionally pictured with a wreath of candles on her head as this was the way she lit her path through the underground passages since her hands were full of food that she carried faithfully to her brothers and sisters in Christ.
On St. Lucia's Day, we talked about the light of Christ that we reflect in a broken and dark world, about how we can be light-bearers to those around us, and about how the light and love of God shines every day and in every circumstance. Three days later, my father-in-law - my girls' beloved Pap - passed from this life to the next. And two days after that, my grandmother also passed away. It was a bleak, terrible, dark week. But we had the reminder of a festival just passed, the gentle light of hope and joy and faithful provision in our minds and the example of a saint long-gone to provide strength, courage and direction.
So, we are slowing down. We're watching a lot less TV (a painful transition). We're knitting and sewing and re-acquainting ourselves with handiwork and watercolor painting. And we are working on our gentleness.
So, thanks Annette. And thanks, Heidi.