We did an article study over at the Christopherus Waldorf At Home Forum on the article “Meeting Fear and Finding Joy” by Stephen Spitalny. (To see the study thread, join here: http://www.waldorf-at-home.com/forums/ ) You can read the article for yourself here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW4006.pdf
This article was an interesting read for this time of year and several things about it jumped out at me. One of the first things I thought about was the initial premise that joy is the opposite of fear: we meet fear and we find joy. At first, all I could really think was that fearlessness or bravery would be the most common antonym of fear.
But then, the more I thought about the children I have worked with who have had anxiety or fear and then were placed in a situation where they found success, the look on their faces was that of pure joy. That they could do it! So perhaps Mr. Spitalny is correct that joy can be the opposite of fear.
Peacefulness could also be seen as the opposite of fear I think. Some of the most peaceful people I ever met in my life were those with such a strong spiritual path that they were just calm in the midst of any of life’s storms.
What does this have to do with surrounding the child with “a Christmas mood”? One thing that this article postulates, and that many of us who work with children have seen, is that children today are increasingly surrounded by the fears, the anxieties, the stresses of the adult world. There is less and less separation between the dreamy world of childhood, and the protection that adults used to afford children. There is less and less knowledge of what children need at different ages.
At the end of this article, Mr. Spitalny describes the Christmas mood this way:
“Dr. Michaela Glöckler speaks about the importance of a “Christmas mood” surrounding the young child. This mood resounds in what Fra Giovanni wrote in 1513:
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day
breaks and the shadows flee away”
If there is one gift in vein of the mood of Advent that one could bestow on one’s children, it would be the gift of returning the small child to the place of being surrounded by love, by warmth, by joy, by peace.
Can you enjoy your children with reverence and joy? Do you have fun being together? Is there humor in your home? Is there a warm community of people who love your child?
This, to me, is the essence of “the Christmas mood.” The Christmas mood is the mood that is almost palpable this time of year, for Christians and non-Christians alike, this season of Advent, of hushed preparation and waiting, of inward connection and fortitude in the darkness.
This article states that:
“The`essence of the task of a human being is to connect, to relate, and to find balance. This relating is with other human beings, with one’s own body, with the kingdoms of nature and the elemental word, with spiritual beings, and with one’s own higher self.”
How do you connect and relate and find balance?
How do your children do this? A child relates perhaps first to its mother as part of itself then expanding to the father or another close caregiver and then through the community. And woven throughout this is the child relating as a spiritual being on a spiritual path. These are tasks worthy of education and of life and of thought and meditation as we parent.
These tasks are the essence of the Christmas mood.
Waiting in reverence,