The First Week of Advent – 2013

The first Sunday of Advent, and the first week of Advent, always seems to sneak up on me each year.  I give myself permission for it not to be perfect, to be a little on “island time”, so to speak, and to jump in when I can.  I like to think not only of the beautiful fun, the “outer” trappings of Advent if you will,  but also the “inner” strings that vibrate and hum and hold this season together, and the fasting that many of us do in spirit (and in flesh) to lead into Advent.  In our homes, it begins with us.

The Inner Strings:

This is the first week of Advent, and I have some beautiful things to share with you.  My father-in-law is a priest of many years, and he is working with this beautiful early Irish confession for this week.  I have taken this confession up in turn, and it may resonate with those of you who are including fasting as part of your Advent practice:

Jesus, forgive my sins.

Forgive the sins that I can remember and the sins I have forgotten.

Forgive the wrong actions I have committed, and the right actions I have omitted.

Forgive the times I have been weak in the face of temptation, and those when I have been stubborn in the face of correction.

Forgive the times I have been proud of my own achievements, and those when I failed to boast of your works.

Forgive the harsh judgments I have made of others, and the leniency I have shown to myself.

Forgive the lies I have told to others, and the truths I have avoided.

Forgive the pain I have caused others, and the indulgence I have shown to myself.

Jesus have pity on me, and make me whole.  Amen.

(This, is, of course, the confession before the Peace in a Divine Liturgy, and before the Eucharist that brings “heaven intertwined with earth” where we take the Divine Life inside ourselves…I just want to point out the beautiful circle of joy that is within the church and Advent, lest this confession sound without hope by itself.  Advent, is after all, joy and hope and abiding.  All of these things!)

May we be wakeful at sunrise to begin a new day for you,

Cheerful at sunset for having done our work for you,

Thankful at moonrise and under starshine for the beauty of your universe;

And may we add what little may be in us to add to your great world.  — The Abbot of Grace

The Fast:

May we fast from the rampant commercialism of this time of year, Continue reading

Thanksgiving Every Day

(I was off celebrating a day of gratitude out of town, and this didn’t get published on Thanksgiving.  However, I think these thoughts about gratitude and Thanksgiving every day.  Many blessings to you all as we move into this season of light and love and gratitude for each other!)

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day of feasting and hopefully a day of warmth and intimacy with our dearest family, friends and neighbors.  Sometimes people joke about Thanksgiving being a time of gathering with dysfunctional family members.  However, it can be a time of true intimacy and meaning if you make it so.

Part of gratitude comes first from within us and how we perceive our world.  Energy begets energy, kindness begets kindness, love begets love.  How we deal with the polarizing forces of love and hate, kindness and cruelty, gratitude and thanklessness and indifference, is up to us.

Gratitude comes out in the actions we model ourselves for our children.  This Thanksgiving holiday, bring along a sweet story basket and offer to  tell Continue reading

Expectation, Anticipation and The Holy Mystery of Advent

 

Advent in the Western Church is almost upon us as it begins on Sunday, December 1 this year.  A beautiful time of power and mystery awaits if only as a culture we can live with expectation, anticipation, and abiding.

 

Advent is not to be rushed nor to be confused with Christmas. We have twelve glorious days to celebrate Christmastide, with many important feasts within that season.  No, this is the season for learning to live in the darkness before the light truly comes. 

 

There are beautiful Saints within the season of Advent to journey with.  The Anglican Communion  included St. Martin (yes, of Martinmas!) and “St. Martin’s Lent”, the beginning of a forty day fast, the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple and Our Lady of the Sign on November 27th, Saint Andrew, Blessed Nicholas Ferrar, Saint Barbara, Saint Nicholas (oh, the back posts on St. Nicholas on this blog!), Our Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Lucia, Saint Thomas.  These days hold such beautiful places, spaces and saints to draw from to make Advent a season of its own within your family life.

 

As for celebrating Advent, popular things to do include making an Advent wreath, using an Advent calendar of some sort, and for those of you with religious leanings, perhaps making a Jesse tree. 

 

Families within the tradition of Waldorf Education often follow a path of Advent that builds up to all of Earth welcoming the Christ, first with the mineral kingdom of shells, stones and bones, then with the plants, animals in the third week and all of humanity in the fourth week, waiting and abiding in expectation and promise.

 

There are many, many back posts regarding Advent on this blog, and I will keep writing during this Advent season about this time of anticipation.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

A Lovely, Beautiful Martinmas

I love Martinmas, this time of taking the beautiful spark of light within each of us, carefully carried from the height of summer expansiveness by the courage and bravery as seen in St. Michael,  that can now light up the darkness of the earth and the human journey.

Lantern walks are a most popular way to work with the festival for all.  A Lantern Walk does not even have to be a coordinated community effort; it can even be as simple and sure as walking around your own house or yard together with your lanterns.  For small children, this can be just as wonderful as a community event.

There are beautiful things to file here for your next Martinmas celebration.

Here is Lily’s beautiful St. Martin (I just loved her Santa Lucia and I love her St. Martin as well!  This is on my list to make for next year!):  http://blockaday.com/stitching-for-martinmas/

I liked this post from Charming The Birds From The Trees:  http://charmingthebirdsfromthetrees.blogspot.com/2013/11/saint-martin.html

The little story and sweets found here could also be kept in your files until next year:  http://www.celebratetherhythmoflife.com/2010/11/martinmas.html

The geometric lanterns found here could be lovely for older students:  http://waldorfmama.blogspot.com/2008/11/martinmas.html

This little lantern bunting is so very sweet:  http://rhythmofthehome.com/2011/08/martinmas-lantern-bunting-waldorf-felt-seasonal-craft/

Finally, this post from The Magic Onions has a beautiful needle felted tapestry embedded in it, along with verses, songs and other lovely goodies:  http://www.themagiconions.com/2012/11/a-thanksgiving-blessing-and-the-waldorf-tradition-of-lantern-walk.html

Many blessings,

Carrie

Guest Post: Reflections On St. John’s Tide

Some of you may be familiar with  fiber artist and teacher Judy Forster from her handwork shop on Etsy called Mama’s Jude’s Plant Dyed Stuff (http://www.mamajudes.etsy.com ) and a post she wrote for this blog some time ago here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/.  Today she is sharing her personal reflections upon St. John’s Tide.

Judy Forster grew up in a family where all kinds of Handwork were important and appreciated. While working as an adjunct instructor of English, she was happily recruited to her first position teaching Handwork at the Susquehanna Waldorf School where her son was a kindergarten student and her husband had taught German. She completed the first Applied Arts training offered in the United States at Sunbridge College. Over the years, Judy has taught Handwork to students of all ages in Waldorf schools and private schools, for homeschool Collectives, and at summer camps. She is currently working at home while enjoying time with her younger daughter; her son is now graduated from college. Judy teaches homeschool students, homeschool parents, and runs her on-line business for naturally plant dyed stuff at  Mama Jude’s Plant Dyed Stuff.

This is Judy’s meditation on the meaning that St. John’s Tide holds for her:  Continue reading

The Nativity of St. John The Forerunner

 

Today is the day of St. John, the Forerunner!  It is a time where the earth is exhaling as if in a deep dream, the deepest of languid sleep,  the height of  summer light and a time where perhaps the Christian Celtic vision of the “thin places” – the veil between the material and spiritual worlds – is so readily apparent.

 

We can feel this rhythm within us, and with this special time in June comes this Feast.  St. John comes to us, with his fiery spirit reminiscent of the Prophet Elijah, to connect us to a sense of repentance, of anticipation, of movement forward with connection to Christ. 

 

There is a renewal held in fire and for centuries people have celebrated this time with bonfires on the tops of mountains and hill tops.  This makes me think of “Hind’s Feet On High Places”, where Hannah Hurnard writes, “The life of the praying person is a journey farther and farther up and farther in, to places God Himself has spoken about to the attentive heart.”

 

Where is your attention?

Where is your Holy Silence?

What is God telling you?

Where is your renewal and your reconnection to God?  What does that mean to you?

How are you being cleansed and renewed by the circumstances in your life?

 

There is a cleansing held in the water.  We see St. John the Forerunner conveying the great spirit of cleansing, of binding and abiding, in his baptism of Christ.  

This weekend I went tubing with a group of friends. It was fun, and it was so much like life. There were banks and shoals and rocks, fast water over rapids and slow lazily drifting pools.   If you didn’t work with the person you are connected with, you didn’t get very far.  If you were not thoroughly yoked to your partner, the rapids would take you apart.  You may have thought you had it all figured out because you had a pole in your hand to keep yourself from getting stranded, but then your pole would be swept away in the current and drift away and you were left with trying to figure out another plan and relying upon people who were coming down the river path to assist you.  Such a loss of control, swept along in the vastness of the current. 

So much like life, and so much to say about this time of cleansing and renewal. 

 

What can you let go of?  What is not serving you anymore and why are you holding onto it?

Who  and what needs to be in your life?

Is it really that serious or should you be floating instead of trying so hard to use your pole to push against the current?

Where is your cleansing and your freshness of the soul?  What are you doing spiritually to support yourself as you go “farther up and farther in”? 

 

Here is to a fresh vision, a new hope, a cleansing and renewing, a new chance for meaning,

Many blessings,
Carrie

Circle and Activities For St.John’s Tide

 

Happy Summer!  St. John’s Tide, or The Feast of The  Nativity of Saint John the Baptist as it called traditionally in the church, is almost upon us!  I have a back post about Midsummer Day/St. John’s Tide here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/09/midsummers-day-st-johns-tide-day/

 

Here are few things we are enjoying in our home as we prepare for this special day, both in church and at home.

 

Circle:

This is a tune from the “Summer” Wystones book:

In the Summer Garden

Where we singing go

Light is flowing

Glowing flowing while the roses grow

 

Then I will add this version which I made up, to the same tune:

In the Summer Garden

Where the sun’s a- glow

St. John’s coming

Making straight and narrow the paths go

 

A Traditional Waldorf Verse, found in many different sources:

I am the sun

And I bear with my might

The earth by day, the earth by might

I hold her fast, and my gifts I bestow

To everything on her, so that it may grow

Man and stone, flower and bee

All receive their light from me

Open thy heart like a little flower,

That with my light I may thee dower

Open thy heart, dear child, to me,

That we together one light may be.

 

Ring Game For The Young Child:

Sally go round the sun

Sally go round the moon

Sally go round the chimney tops

On A Sunday afternoon – whoops!

Saint John, who ate locusts and wild honey, makes me think of bees in this summertime.

Bees Verses:

Five Busy Bees

Five little busy bees on a day so sunny.

(Hold up all fingers.)

Number one said, I’d like to make some honey.

(Bend down number one.)

Number two said, Tell me where shall it be?

(Bend down second finger.)

Number three said, In the old honey-tree.

(Bend down third finger.)

Number four said, Let’s gather nectar sweet.

(Bend down fourth finger.)

Number five said, Let’s take pollen on our feet.

(Bend down thumb.)

Humming their busy little honeybee song.

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! (Fly fingers.)

From Nature Boxes for Early Childhood Educators, Debbi Williams, Story County Conservation Board

 

Here is the beehive, where are the bees?
     clench fist and bring out fingers quickly one by one
Hidden away were nobody sees
Watch and you will see them come out of their hives,
One, two, three, four, five,
Buzz, buzz, buzz.

 

One little bee blew and flew.
He met a friend, and that made two.

Two little bees, busy as could be–
Along came another and that made three.

Three little bees, wanted one more,
Found one soon and that made four.

Four little bees, going to the hive.
Spied their little brother, and that made five.

Five little bees working every hour–
Buzz away, bees, and find another flower.

And you could end with the traditional favorite:

Ring around the rosies

Pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

Cows are in the meadows

Eating buttercups

Thunder, lightning, we all stand up!

 

Some little activities to enjoy:

Read the story of Saint John from the Holy Bible  – such richness for all ages!

Make some small hanging suns – directions page 105  of the book “All Year Round”

Make some bees for your nature table:  http://ancienthearth2.blogspot.com/2010/07/summer-bees-needle-felting-tutorial.html  (no dry needle felting for young children, please! However,  they could paint rocks like little bees)

Wet –on-wet watercolor painting with yellow

There are stories in the back of the Summer Wynstones and also a story for older children in the back of the book, “All Year Round”. 

 

 

Many blessings on The Feast of The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist!

Blessings,
Carrie