Hearts of Courage: Michaelmas

From – Rudolf Steiner’s January 15, 1915 lecture The Great Virtues:

Another virtue can be called — though it is difficult to describe it exactly — the virtue of Courage. It contains the mood which does not remain passive towards life, but is ready to use its strength and activity. It can be said that this virtue comes from the heart. Of one who has this virtue in ordinary life it can be said: he has his heart in the right place. This is a good expression for our condition when we do not withdraw in a timid way from things which life asks from us, but when we are prepared to take ourselves in hand and know how to intervene where it is necessary. When we are inclined to get moving, confidently and bravely, we have this virtue. It is connected with a healthy life of feeling, which develops bravery at the right moment, while its absence brings about cowardice.

We are living in a time and place in which we must call upon our courage and quell our passivity towards life, and we must teach our children how to become active.   I was thinking about this article about how teenagers are growing up more slowly and in fact in their twenties are now acting like teenagers of the past (based upon studies of  8 MILLION teenagers!)  There needs to be leaders in this generation, and it is up to us to prepare them.  Therefore, I  think there is no better theme to meditate upon this Michaelmas season as the Northern Hemisphere looks inward with a self-consciousness toward contemplation of the things that will make health and healing flow into our children and the world and how we can equip our children and our teenagers, our young adults, to meet this world.   The things going on in the world requires us not to check out, but to help.

The outer trappings of the festival of Michaelmas are quite lovely for  small children, and especially fun in a large group with many different ages playing parts in a Michaelmas display of a dragon with knights and St. Michael.  There are many ways we can celebrate at home as homeschoolers as well; this is a great post for beginners or those with younger children called “Michaelmas Is Coming!”

If you want even more suggestions for celebrating, or need suggestions for older children, even high schoolers, try this back post: “A Month of Michaelmas”

But most of all, this is the time for serious adult inner work.  We turn inward from the consciousness of nature that we have been drawn to, this outward expression that marks the summer, and work inward to discover the dragons within us that need subduing;  how to bring our dreams and light to our family and the world.  One medititation that many associated with Waldorf Education use is the Foundation Stone Meditation.  You may find this link through the Anthroposophical Society, Portland Branch to be helpful as it includes a PDF chart of working with this meditation in conjunction in a 7-fold rhythm for days and seasons of the year.

The conflict between the dragon and St. Michael lives within us; how can we activate our own consciousness in order to find the deeds to help our children and the world?

Blessings,

Carrie

 

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On the Eve of St. John’s Tide

“John the Baptist represents man at the center of history, devoted to what is beyond himself, to the revelation of the spirit brought by Christ.  His summons was to turn inward, to search within toward a confrontation with oneself.”

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide, ” page 175

St. John’s Tide is a wonderful time to ask ourselves….

are we being helpful to humanity?  As a mother, I feel the very best place to begin with this endeavor is in our own homes and with our own children.  Don’t give in to fear and insecurity in leading and guiding your children; search for the fearlessness in the heart of your parenting.  This generation of children needs that in order to develop heart, word, and deed devoted to humanity.

are we honest?

are we peaceful?

where is our balance?

How do we work on these endeavors and more in our lives? I find inner work to be a resounding key for this because our model is more important in these times than our words.  Our model is making a way and a path for our children and what the world will need when it is this generation’s turn to be  leaders and architects of solutions to problems.

Some of my favorite ways to do inner work is very simple indeed:

Praying- I am Episcopalian, so following The Book of Common Prayer is what unites the people of the Anglican Communion; a way of prayer.  When we ask for help from the spiritual world and listen in our hearts for the answer, we find the model we need.

Attending mass and receiving the sacraments

Listening to people; listening to what is becoming in the world.  This requires an interest in the outside world, and using imagination and intuition.

Trying to picture my spouse and children as clearly as possible and taking these pictures into my sleep.  Don’t we all often do our best thinking in our sleep?

Wishing you a magnificent St. John’s Tide;  perhaps you will spend the day outside with cooking over open fires or creating a bonfire that you can leap over; finding edible flowers; creating platters of fruits; gathering sunflowers and leaving a light on the porch burning all night long.  However you choose to celebrate, may renewal and transformation be yours.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Joyous Summers With Children!

The outbreath of summer with its golden days, sultry heat, blue skies, dragonflies and bumblebees, and festivals is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  However, sometimes summer with children can have a bit of a bumpy entry (adjustment) or a bit of fatigue in the middle (lack of balance, sibling bickering!)

One of the things I think summer really needs is time and space, but also a skeletal structure to provide a little inbreath and outbreath; a little balance.  Children often run full tilt outside all summer long, and sometimes even just having a little grounding in the morning with chores and a small circle (for younger children) or artistic activity (for older children), and a pause in the middle of the day  for physical rest can be helpful and nourishing.

I like to plan some anchor points with crafts for festivals over the summer.  You can see some of my ideas here on my Summer Pinterest board, along with ideas specifically for June, July, and   .  These are months for creating a magical summer!   This back post by guest poster Christine Natale has many wonderful ideas for creating great summer memories.  I also wrote a post about celebrating summer with small children  if you are looking for something specific to the Early Years.

One thing to plan for includes summertime bickering.  I find bickering  between siblings can be at its height during the summer, and it is good to have a plan to deal with this so you are not caught off guard!

Lastly, consider summer stories and your summer nature table.  These can add a stabilizing, calming influence to your summer plans.

Off to enjoy a day of fun in the sun myself,

Carrie

Now We Go Round The Maypole High

Now we go round the Maypole high, Maypole high, Maypole high

Now we go round the Maypole high,

Let colored ribbons fly.

See lasses and lads go tripping by,

Tripping by, tripping by,

See lasses and lads go tripping by

Let colored ribbons fly

Tonight we are celebrating the third Sunday in Eastertide, and the delight of  May Day is upon us tomorrow!

There are so many beautiful traditions associated with May Day, and it is sure to be a festival your family will enjoy.  Festivals involve the outer doing for children.  In this case, we could:

  • Have a  real Maypole and a Maypole dance.  Some traditional songs include “Now We Go Round the Maypole High” and “May Song”  (Which begins:  “Here’s a branch of snowy may, a branch the fairies gave me/Who would like to dance today with the branch the fairies gave me?”)
  • Make simple ribbon and bell anklets for the girls to wear in dancing the Maypole, and flower crowns
  • Make Mayday baskets of little paper cones with flowers in them for your neighbors or community helpers.  Alternatively, you could press flowers and make little May Day  cards.
  • Tell stories!  Possibilities include, “The Piper Who Knew But One Tune,” found in the book, “Celebrating Irish Festivals,” by Ruth Marshall or “Little Grey Rabbit’s May Day” by Alison Uttley
  • Play ring games such as “Nuts in May,” ball games, and sack races
  • Pick medicinal herbs and dry them.
  • Sing songs and do fingerplays about the cuckoo bird
  • Have a picnic lunch outside!
  • Make tissue paper flowers
  • Decorate your home with wreaths, garlands, and ribbons.  This is a tradition from England.
  • Serve a May Day cake after dinner.
  • There are directions for a Mayday decoration on page 88 of the book, “All Year Round.”

The inner work of the adult:

May Day was celebrated as freedom and exuberance of summer, and in the book, “All Year Round,” the authors state it is  a time of promise for the farmer, the young people weaving around the May Pole, the young girl washing her face in the morning dew.  Authors Druitt, Fynes, and Rowling write in “All Year Round,” (page 85):  “In most years, May 1st falls between Easter and Ascension.  In the forty days after Easter, the teaching of the Risen Christ gave the disciples glimpses of the Divine Pattern woven by the events of Holy Week.  By Ascension, these glimpses were only a memory, but the promise to His followers remained as their consolation – the promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).   

Perhaps the inner work of the adult is to find the promise and hope within ourselves.

Have a beautiful May Day!  A final lovely thought:

In many lands the children bring

May Baskets for the first of spring,

And hang them on a neighbor’s door

To say that spring is here once more.

-A. Wynne

Many blessings in your celebrations,
Carrie

 

 

 

Eastertide: 50 Days of Beauty and Joy

Happy Eastertide!  I love the season of Eastertide, which began on Easter Sunday and will last until  Pentecost Sunday (which is on June 4th this year).

I find it comforting that the spiritual journey of Lent, often hard and arduous, gives way to an even longer period of joy and yes, even fun.  There are forty days in Lent, and fifty in Eastertide, which to me signifies and marks the very adult needs of beauty, fun, and play.

Oh yes, to play.  Adults need to play.  Play is not only the realm of children.  Play is often the creative wellspring of adults as well.  I am also convinced it a the key to adult  mental wellness.   We often seem to forget this in our drudgery of work, traffic, children’s activities, cooking meals and changing diapers and cleaning the house over and over, but  our need to play (and rest and relax) is every bit as real as our need to work and help each other.  The child inside of us is never far down if only we reach for him or her.

We recently began Eastertide by spending a few days camping on a remote barrier island that was accessible by ferry.  It was full of palmettos, sand dunes, beach,  live oak trees to climb,  and places to swim and walk.  There were wild horses grazing in the sand dunes, armadillos crossing our path (and raccoons trying valiantly to get into our food and water jugs).  It was five hours away from our home, but still in our state, and yet was so far away from the large and busy metropolitan area in which we live now.  We used to live in this area when we first were married, and moved for job opportunities, but I often miss the quiet, slower pace of that beautiful area of sun and sea.

In this fifty days of Eastertide, I challenge you to play, to rest and relax and notice beauty, and to find and take your joy in the ordinary moments.  They are there, even amongst the chores of housekeeping or holding tiny children.  They are there, even in the times of your teenager dealing with end of semester tests and finals.  They are there, even with your children who are feeling the call of spring and nature to be wild and untamed.   They are there, even in traffic and whizzing cars.  Find those moments and hold onto them for what they are; the seeds of creativity and relaxing love.

Happy Eastertide, my friends.

Blessings,
Carrie

April Beauty

We were away for the first week of April and came home to green grass, blooming ornamental trees, and cold nights but warm temperatures during the day. Spring is here!

This month, we will be journeying through the heart and soul of Holy Week and celebrating Eastertide in its fullest glory, despite the often horrifying and somber events of the world as of late.   The calendar of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church include an amazing array of Saints this month; so much wonder in the midst of darkness to remember.   Our main family  festival dates  this month include:

9- Palm Sunday

10-15- Holy Week

16- Easter

Eastertide!

25- St. Mark

29- St. Catherine of Siena

I am looking ahead to Ascension Day in May and the Rogation Days that precede Ascension Day ( the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday prior to Ascension Day).  There is also a Novena of 9 days that begins on Ascension Day and ends on the Eve of Pentecost.  So I am really thinking about how to mark that.

These are a few of my favorite things this month for my family:

  • Since we will be in Eastertide in just a short week,  I am thinking of all the creative and wonderful ways to dye eggs,  thinking of the Paschal candle and light in our home, indoor dish Easter gardens, Easter carols (yes, they are real!) and attending church
  • Gardens outside as well – especially leading up to Rogation Days which is a wonderful time to have seeds, gardening tools and homesteads blessed.
  • Spring cleaning and decluttering
  • Spring menu planning!
  • OUTSIDE PLAY!  How often do we, as adults, forget to play?  Play has really been on my mind lately as a depression and anxiety buster, as a health enhancer, as a way to create family memories and fun!  Look for some ideas about PLAY coming this month to this space.
  • Camping.  It is a nice month to camp where we live, and we will be taking advantage of that by camping at an uninhabited barrier island mid-month.  Wild horses and beach fun!

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Ramping up all kinds of physical activity since the weather is generally nice…hiking, kayaking, roller blading, walking, playing in the yard never disappeared these past months, but I feel so drawn to these activities now.
  • Incorporating more and more loose parts play and re-arranging indoor and outdoor play areas.

P.S. — For those of you who are using any form of screens with your small children, how about looking at rhythm, play and outside time in preparation for Screen Free Week?  Screen Free Week 2016 is coming May 1-7! You can see http://www.screenfree.org for more details. 🙂

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-age children and teens:

  • Spring handwork – wet felting, making beautiful spring crafts
  • Movement outside and exploring nature
  • Adjusting our rhythm to the seasons, but sticking to strong awake, rest and bedtimes, along with regular nourishing whole foods mealtimes.
  • Exploring local history through geological and nature study, and also through local historical events of significance.  There are so many National Park sites and museums to explore!
  • Letting teens sleep.  Spring is a time when a lot of physical growth seems to occur, and teens need their sleep!

Please share with me what is inspiring you this month!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Calm Candlemas

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will take another flight.

If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again.”

-Traditional Verse

Candlemas takes its name from the blessing of candles that will be used throughout the  year.  It is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ to Anna and Simeon, where Christ is seen as the Light.  The light of spring with its new dawning is awakening, and the new meets the old on both physical and spiritual planes.  This is a calming reassurance of the continuity of life and of the potential we have to be a light ourselves.

This day is also marked in the United States as “Groundhog Day.”  The  old belief was that all the hibernating animals would wake up on this day and come out to see if it was still winter or not.  Interestingly, if it is cloudy and the groundhog sees no shadow, there will be an early spring.  However, sunny weather causes a shadow, and the groundhog will predict 40 more days of winter.

The way to mark this day, is to of course, eat the traditional foods of Candlemas, which usually include crepes and pancakes. It is a day for agricultural sowing of the fields, or at least making a furrow, and it could be a day for spring cleaning and beginning new projects.  What new things have you wanted to do and need courage to begin?

And, this is of course a day of candle making. Old candles can be melted down into new dipped or walnut shell candle boats.  Other types of floating candles can be made from  wax poured into little cookie cutters that have been oiled and allowed to set with a wick.  Candles for tiny hands can be rolled; and candles can be dipped.  I keep separate pots for candle making endeavors on a shelf in my laundry room.  There are instructions for “sand candles” in the book “All Year Round”; you will need  a tennis ball to press into the sand and then to poke three holes into this shape so the finished candle will have three legs upon which to stand.  Earth candles are also lovely and can be dug into the yard to welcome all the little flowering bulbs just beginning to make an appearance.

Inside, a traditional nature table for this time of year may include little spring flowers from bulbs, and a pale green cloth.

I hope you found a calming, bright peace on this Candlemas Day.  May our inner light glow out into the world to shine for all to see.

Many blessings,

Carrie