Celebrating The Feast of Ascension With Children

The Feast of Ascension is such a beautiful festival.  In the Western calendar, Ascension Day is coming on Thursday, May 8. This used to be a day of sabbatical in many places in Europe, where processions through a town or village went forth with a banner depicting a lion trampling the devil was at the head of this procession, and the procession stopped throughout the village to view little medieval pageants. It also used to be a day for Divine Liturgy, where the Paschal Candle was extinguished, perhaps a statue or picture of Christ was raised (sometimes elaborately through a hole in the ceiling with ropes!) and the mass of parishioners were showered with rose petals and flowers, which symbolized the gifts which the ascended Christ bestowed upon the Church.

Much of this no longer takes place.  Many Anglican Communion churches now celebrate Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Ascension on the Sunday after the feast, and the Paschal Candle is extinguished on The Feast of Pentecost.

 

For the day of the Feast, those who are religious can attend Divine Liturgy and read the Gospel story about the Ascension of Jesus.   We can ponder the mystical nature of the whole of the Church.   This can still be a beautiful sabbatical day of hiking to a hill or mountaintop and looking for clouds in the shape of lambs, which is traditional.

Clouds are a theme in Ascension, and the clouds, according to the authors of “All Year Round”, can link us to the “stream of blessings which united heaven and earth”.  The section on Ascension also talks about “between the common ground of our daily life and the vaulted heights of our ideals, the longings of our heart swell like summer clouds.”  These are lovely thoughts to ponder as we re-fresh and re-new our souls on this special day, and the nine days following The Feast of Ascension in order to prepare for Whitsun (Pentecost) – the renewal found in this festival makes room and space in us to receive the gifts our Creator has bestowed upon us, and to ponder how we can use these gifts in truth to serve all of humanity.

Many Blessings,

Carrie

 

Finding Peace: Connection of the Heart

Connection is the heart of what it means to be human.  Connection is what enables us to know ourselves deeply and to live into our own needs and values. There can also be connection to a significant other ; connection to our children; connection to other family and friends in community; connection to nature and connection to the Creator and Creation.

So often this is the first thing that seems to get lost in the mad shuffle.  It can be easy to disconnect from ourselves – people do it all the time with drugs and alcohol, screens, food, and sexual and other addictions.  It can be easy to disconnect from our children as well.  Some level of benign neglect is healthy, I think, but there also has to be where a child feels heard and understood and part of the family and that the child feels secure and stable so they can grow forth on their own journey from this stability. And stability comes from parents who address and heal their own wounds as well.

Sometimes people have asked me how to begin with these matters of the heart.  They will ask what to do with Waldorf Education for their children because they don’t believe in God.  I ask them what do they believe in, and how can they go from there?  What do they truly know?  One of the biggest tenets I think is that we cannot show our children that the world is a good place and that people are good if we ourselves do not believe that.  There is a time and a place to understand the reality (and sometimes horrors of the world), but small children desperately need to know stability, love, connection, and goodness.  They need to see the goodness of the world, however we find it, through our eyes.

And often, when we are in despair and in our darkest moments, we need to know about that goodness as well.  That longing for goodness never disappears completely.  Start small so we can bring that to the next generation for our world.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Spiritual Studies in the Episcopal/Anglican Homeschool

We were on vacation last week, enjoying some sun and sand.  After a rather rough time with the loss of people this fall and a beloved pet especially this spring, it was good to get away for a little bit.  The wonderful thing about vacations is that hopefully one finds time to think (although my joke is always that taking a trip with children is really a holiday, not a vacation! LOL).

At any rate, I was feeling a little consumed by some little words from the Book of Common Prayer found in the Baptismal Rite…In the baptism of a new member, the entire Body of Christ in the parish re-affirms his or her own baptismal vows –  to continue in the tradition of the apostles in fellowship, teaching and communion; to resist evil; to be a good example of Christ’s love in the world, to love and serve all people, to strive for justice and dignity and peace among all people, to respect the dignity of all every human being.  After baptism and chrismation, part of the prayer said by the priest is:

Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Sprit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all Your works.

Those words always strike me as such a dovetail to what I want for my children to receive from our parenting and from our homeschooling.  And this brings me to Anglican Spiritual traditions within homeschooling.  This is actually not an easy subject.  In the Christian homeschooling market, there are many resources for all denominations of Christianity.  Yet, I think perhaps because there is such a strong and large tradition of Anglican and Episcopalian school choices, that at least here in the United States, I cannot find any single resource at all specifically directed to families of the Anglican Communion who are homeschooling.  The few resources I have found and adapted I have commented upon in blog posts in the past.

We learn about the church in community by attending Liturgy and also through activities within our church body. We break bread together on our knees in community, our baptisms are in community, we love in community.  Our children are involved heavily in choir and the Royal School of Church Music program.  Yet, in our home time where we are together as a family and a small home church so to speak , I have to be conscious and mindful.  My goals for right now when we start our school day include:

To open with prayer- which by its very nature, brings in The Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican view of time, the Saints we hold in communion, and the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church (for example, this week we celebrate St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1012; we celebrate St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1109; and St George, the Patron Saint of England; but we also celebrate John Muir, whose life story fits into one of our mission marks:  “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew life on earth”).  During this time, we explore also different paths of mysticism within the Anglican tradition and within the Body of Christ, and icons.

To read the Bible together and discuss intimately.  Some of the books from Cowley Publications, which is a ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a religious community for men in the Episcopal Church, have been helpful, along with books by author Vicki Black.

Lastly, we will spend a few moments each day discussing any of the following:   the Episcopal Church’s tenets, tenets of good Christian living, famous Episcopalians and Anglicans through biographical format, the Visual and Musical Arts of the Church, the three Creeds we follow, and the history of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church in America  and the Anglican Communion as a whole.

Many blessings and light,

Carrie

 

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: April

April can be such a lovely month in the Deep South.  We have tulips blooming, everything is turning green, and the weather, whilst at times unpredictable, is generally heading toward warm.  It is also a lovely time to explore the mountains and the seaside and to revel in all of nature awakening.

This month, we are celebrating Eastertide in its fullest glory.  The calendar of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church include an amazing array of Saints this month; so many wonderful people.   Our main festival dates in our family this month include:

23- St. George

25- St. Mark

29- St. Catherine of Siena

and I am looking ahead to Ascension Day (Thursday, May 5th) 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 are still in Eastertide here,  dyeing of eggs,  thinking of the Paschal candle and light in our home, indoor dish Easter gardens, Easter carols (yes, they are real!) and attending church are in my heart
  • 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, decluttering, and moving ahead with some simple decorating I have wanted to do in our home.

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 2-8! You can see http://www.screenfree.org for more details.🙂

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

  • 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.

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • 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 occurs, and teens need their sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for my own inner work:

  • I am in the midst of creating a Sacred Hour – half to be spent in personal study, and half to be spent with our children in sharing the Saints, the Bible and Anglican traditions.  I am feeling very happy about this.
  •  I have been looking closely at boundaries on my own time and what truly makes me feel comfortable and happy in the way I use time

These are a few of my favorite things for my own self-care and health:

  • Continuing to get up and work out before my day starts with the family.
  • Drinking water.

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschooling:

  • Well, I had started planning and got most of sixth grade planned and two blocks of ninth grade (first year of high school), and then stopped..so I need to get back to planning again.

Please share with me what is inspiring you this month!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Beautiful, Meditative Candlemas

Candle candle burning bright

Winter’s halfway done tonight

With a-glowing we are knowing

Spring will come again

-Candlemas Verse, Unknown Author

Have you ever been just so weary?  So exhausted?  If you have tiny children you see those sweet little bodies to fill with warming foods and coaxing into rest and sleep; if you have elementary-aged children  you are helping to balance burgeoning minds with wonder and bodies with rest and exercise; if you have teenagers maybe you are dealing with restless energy heading toward an uncertain future…and in between all of this you are cooking, cleaning, nourishing a spouse or partner perhaps, and maybe trying to take care of your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs so you can be on your game to do it all again tomorrow.

I feel your weariness.  I feel your exhaustion .  I feel you trying to hold on in order to nourish everything and everyone in your life.

I think Candlemas (February 2nd) feels this too.  Candlemas is this beautiful, quiet, still pause to remind us of hope.  Spring will come again.  Light will come to the world.  Newness can grow out of old.  Growth can come out of weary.

Candlemas can be the most lovely day to start with a beautiful breakfast of sunny yellow pancakes or crepes.  Candle dipping is such a meditative activity for the day; a gesture of bringing light into the winter of the world and the winter of our souls.   Other ways to work with candles include making earth candles, floating candles, or rolling beeswax candles.  We can offer stories of our friends the bees who give us fragrant, smooth beeswax as their offering.  We can offer this as a time of the half-way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.  If you could have a bonfire, that could be a beautiful way to end the day.

If you are looking for some more ideas regarding this festival, here are a few back posts regarding the Feast of St. Brigid, Candlemas and Groundhog Day.

I have a few other suggestions for this day.  Perhaps this would be a beautiful half-way point to survey yourself.  What is your self-care?  Where are things between you and your spouse or partner?  How much sleep and exercise are you eating?  What can  you do to nourish yourself on this special day of light and love so you can shine light on and love your little corner of the world?

Love to you on Candlemas,

Carrie

 

 

 

Three Reasons I Need Rhythm…

I find many of us are still trying to get our rhythm back at this time of year.  I know I am!  Actually, in my world of the Anglican Communion, we are still in the season of Epiphany and now coming up to Lent, so there is this sense of still being in the middle of things in a way….and many of us find our children grow and change over the holidays, so whilst the work of the day may remain, perhaps meal times or outside times or bedtimes needs to shift around.  Never be afraid to make a rhythm that works for you!  I always start by looking at what pattern we are in, and then seeing if it needs to change…or maybe it is a real pattern that remains..

Rhythm is this idea of a flow to the day; it is not a schedule because it is  flow -oriented and not as time-oriented perhaps as a schedule (although there may be times assigned to meals and bedtime).  It provides an order to the day and a sense of strength for the parent because it takes away some of the thinking involved with every single decision we have to make in a day.  If you know your errand day is on Friday, then you don’t need to go out on Tuesday, for example.  If you know you always put your boots after your walk in one spot as part of cleaning up from your nature walk each day, then you don’t have to round up boots that land in various places.  Rhythm just IS, like the tide coming in and going out or sun coming up and setting.

The three reasons I  particularly need rhythm are:

To continually remind me of the importance of the home. In a society that often does not seem to value being home except for short pit stops between activities (even for small children), rhythm in my home reminds me of the time and care it takes to create a nourishing environment and that there is value in that for the health of all of us in the family.  Ideally, in a home full of rhythm, a small child would be able to tell what day of the week it is by the meaningful work being done in the home on those days.  For example,  perhaps Tuesdays are always ironing days or Thursdays are always bread making days or Mondays are always the cleaning of the home from the weekend.  Traditionally, Waldorf Education has assigned different work to different days based upon more planetary influences (does that sound esoteric enough?!), so there are suggestions from Waldorf kindergartens for different activities for different days of the week.

It reminds me of the importance of what I call “soul hygiene” – that there should be a time and place in the day for inner work, for physical activity outside, for sleep and rest.  This helps remind me to pace myself and to honor these activities.  This helps me remember my main goal of parenting is to help my children be healthy adults – healthy physically, emotionally, in how they see light in others and how they communicate with others, spiritually.

We set up the environment with care, which teaches me attentiveness to activities and models this for my children.  We might have a song or verses to go with the activity.  We put things away  and clean up with care.  Again, it forces me to slow down and see the value of the activities we are doing for the physical, emotional and spiritual realms.

Lastly, (yes, I couldn’t resist sneaking in reason number four!) is that rhythm is your aid to discipline.  When we know when things will happen and how it will happen, it cuts down arguing.  This time of year, that can be valuable.  It is even valuable for teenagers and older children.

How is your rhythm valuable to you?

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Four Steps Toward Parenting Together

I have heard it said that parenting involves not just thinking alike, but thinking together.  Parenting in a relationship means that the needs and thoughts of both parties have to be considered and communicated and compromised upon.  It is hard work, but I encourage you to do the work.  If I have parents reading this who are in their 20s and early 30s, I really want to encourage you to do this work now.   I am in my 40s, and unfortunately there are many divorces going on amongst beautiful couples that we know – but most of the divorces had roots from when these couples were in their late twenties or early thirties.  So, I would like to share five tips for those working toward parenting (and unifying other aspects of their life as well!) together.

  1.  Parenting is just one aspect of how a couple communicates, respects and appreciates each other. I think “parenting” comes up as this hot button – whether it is breastfeeding, c0-sleeping, educational choices, discipline – but it really is a facet of: how do we communicate as a couple; does my spouse or partner respect me by listening to me and respecting my ideas and opinions as well; do we appreciate what each one of us brings to the table in this process?  What do we both really value most for our family life?
  2. If communication skills and compromise are difficult and you both feel as if you are just going over the same thing in a circular fashion with no compromise or resolution, get help from a third party (earlier rather than later!).  Many counselors work on a sliding scale, and many places of religious worship offer counseling as well. This chapter (https://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/26/overcome-gridlock-the-seven-principles-for-making-marriage-work/)  in Dr. Gottman’s book about overcoming gridlock could also be helpful to you as a process at home.
  3. Have a set time to address challenges that are coming up in family life.  When is actually a good time to talk through things that are important, where you can focus together without being interrupted?
  4. Cultivate some patience.  Not every issue in attempting to co-parent or be unified always works out in compromise; sometimes the differences are still there but they are livable differences.  Sometimes opinions change as one partner models things and shares with the other partner.

Many blessings,
Carrie