If you believe love to be the answer in the world, then you must ask yourself the question: how do we develop the capacities of children, our next generation, to love and to be love in the world?
I found the ability to nourish these capacities in my children through my faith. That in and of itself is a long story for another time, but that inner work and healing led to an idea. It was a thought, a coming to believe that we as a family, being attached and connected to our children, would be the foundation for their ability to love.
What was most important to us is that the overall feeling in our home was that YOU ARE LOVED. God loves you. You are loved. Who you are is enough. Who you are is just right. Who you are matters. You are unconditionally and without question, loved. You belong.
The longing to develop this capacity for love continued for me when I found Waldorf Education. I once heard a beautiful lecture by Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, give a lecture on the Greek terms for love and how this ties in with Waldorf Education. This is what I see in Waldorf homeschooling and in nurturing the capacities of our children to love:
Birth through seven – an affection and affinity found in the goodness of nature, the goodness of the Earth and of all the things in the Earth. In the homeschooling family, this love is the Greek “storge” – a familial kind of love and affection. This word was used by the Ancient Greeks to mainly describe familial relationships. How fitting that a Waldorf Kindergarten re-creates the home environment, and here in the home with our homeschooling, we live this with our children.
Many parents have to start here because they have lost that affinity for their fellow man, for nature, for the world and because for many parents today, it seems as if parenting a small child is a stressful experience……. If life has been a hard road, it takes inner work, healing and love for you to come to the place where you can experience storge with your child. But you can do it!
Seven through Twelve – The building of affection and friendship between friends, family and community. The Ancient Greeks called this “philios” and it implied a brotherhood of equality. I think if we protect our children’s childhood, we see this in the way our children feel at one with Spirit, with nature, with the rock over there and the bird over here and with an ease with others in community. It is a time of great beauty and Oneness with the world. Many speak of the separation of the child from the world around the age of nine, an inner separation and leaving the Garden of Eden during the nine year change so to speak, but I often feel that in the homeschooling environment this period from nine or ten through age twelve or thirteen is really a slow awakening if the child is protected and nurtured.
The Teenaged Years – We see in this period “eros”. In this day and age, we often associate this kind of love with “erotic love” – perhaps with the idea that teenagers have romantic relationships on their minds amidst many bodily changes! However, the Ancient Greeks also took “eros” to mean a love of beauty, an appreciation of beauty within a person or an appreciation of beauty itself. The Greeks saw that this appreciation of beauty often led to spiritual truth. We see this in the curriculum so well – the beauty of geometry leading to the truths of numbers and nature, for example. Another example might be the truths of history, but providing a lens of lightness in the darkness to look at this through; seeing the beauty of humanity even in difficult circumstances.
Between the teenaged years and the age of twenty-one, when the child is an adult, he or she hopefully is ready to go into the world with an agape love. A selfless love. A love without bounds and without condition. A loving kindness to serve humanity. A love that wants the other to live in good will. A love that was built upon the family, the community, and seeing the beauty in others.
So, again, if love is the answer, how we develop capacities to get to that answer matters. What we do matters.