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

Great Links To Love and Make You Think!

I LOVE this one about not complaining and how to stop.it.now.    Here it is:  http://www.becomingminimalist.com/complain-less/

My Christian readers might enjoy this one about marriage: http://www.rickthomas.net/2013/10/14/youve-lied-marriage/

Ancient Rome is on my mind; it is a mainstay of sixth grade in the Waldorf curriculum and we are starting this block next week!  Here is Sheila’s post about her experience with Ancient Rome:  http://sureastheworld.com/2013/10/21/grade-6-roman-history-block/  (For those of you keeping track, I wrote about our geometry block already but still have yet to write about our mineralogy block.  Hope to get to that soon!)

Such a sweet Martinmas sweater here:  http://seamless.typepad.com/my-blog/2013/10/create-22-october-2013.html     I am thinking about Martinmas as well, and making new lanterns this year.

Moving into the season of Light,

Carrie

Friday Linky Love

Happy October!  Here are a few links to love and enjoy:

First of all, my dear friend Andrea has a new blog:  http://solrevel.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/tuning-in/. She wrote that wonderful homeschooling manifesto as a guest post for this blog if you would like to re-read it!  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/04/17/guest-post-a-homeschooling-manifesto/

http://downtoearthmother.com/2013/09/23/hormone-disrupting-chemicals/  I don’t normally post about nutrition or holistic health issues here as there are so many blogs that cover this area beautifully, but this article is an important one.  Starting with small steps can make it all less overwhelming if you have lots of changes to make! Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: October

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

I wrote about my homeschool planning method of marking seasonal and liturgical ideas down for each month and shared my list for September here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/05/16/the-mood-of-celebrationpart-two/  and August here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/08/01/monthly-anchor-points-august/

We are already in October, and here in the Deep South the nights are getting crisp, leaves are falling, apple picking is in full swing and pumpkins are getting ready on the vine.

Here are the festivals and holidays we are celebrating in October: Continue reading