This time of year brings the impetus for the nourishing spiritual work that will sustain us through the darkness and cold of winter. As the light fades away, we ask ourselves where is the light in our souls and how is this shining into humanity? How do we not hurt others with our thoughts, words, and deeds? How do we live with what we have done and by what we have left undone?
The only true answer to this is inner work. Inner work requires an awakening. It requires looking at the dark places that are inside of us. Sometimes our irritation is with those that we see outside of ourselves, and perhaps that is a good signal to look inside ourselves. Examining the darkness is what leads to freedom. Awakening and asking the questions is the beginning.
The great Master Waldorf teacher Else Gottgens had a checklist she used at the end of each day of teaching in grades 1-8. She would ask herself if she had given the children real and appropriate images or pictures (not judgements); had she used the night wisely; did every child make an effort; did she translate the main lesson into movement; did she make the children laugh; did she address one or more of the temperaments; did she teach them something new? Then she would go back and make a lesson plan based upon the observations.
I think the outer observations, if we can slow down and look, are the easier parts. I have not made a little checklist like Else Gottgens’ for my days of parenting children ages 7-15 at home, but I have some thoughts in my mind. Things that would govern my days like: did we laugh together; did we find moments of reverence and wonder toward God and nature; was I kind; did I succeed in guiding ideas, perceptions, or behavior with appropriate boundaries or discussion; did I put forth a love of all people in humanity today; did I put forth a love of all of Creation; did I instill an attitude of capability, accountability, and responsibility in my children?
The harder part is the inner attitude. What did I do that was wrong or left undone? Where was my perception completely wrong? Where was the Divine nudging me and I ignored? Where did I need to forgive myself or others? Was I humble? Was I generous? Where are the dark places inside of me that need rooting out? What am I modeling and is it reflective of my innermost thoughts? Is my outward time and activities reflecting what is inwardly most important to me? I find a practice of a spiritual path to help explore and face these areas in love is a necessity.
Thinking as the days grow shorter….