Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the first light of advent

Advent, Advent, a candle burns
Advent, Advent, a candle burns
First one then two then three then four
Than stands the Light Child at my door

The first light of Advent is the light of stones
Stones that live in crystals
In seashells and in bones

Last year I made these little Advent bags to replace the candy Advent calendar.  Each morning Naiya awakens with a squeal wishing to open the day's bag.  Most days the bag is filled with something to place upon the Advent wreath that sits on our table.  The first week so far has held an amethyst crystal and two beautiful polished stones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants
Plants that reach up to the sun
And in the breezes dance

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind
The light of love, the light of thought
To give and to understand

Saturday, November 20, 2010

giving thanks

Naiya: “Does everyone have Thanksgiving on the same day?”

Oma: “Yes. You know, that on Thanksgiving, sometimes at the table, people will ask 'What are you thankful for?' I would say that I am thankful for my children and grandchildren and for my house. What would you say?”

Naiya, after some heavy thinking: “I am thankful for so many things, it would take two days to say them all.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010


On November 11th we celebrated Martinmas at home with Naiya. We told stories of giving and sharing and one of the more well-known stories of Saint Martin himself. Naiya wanted to hear it over and over and also set up her dolls to act out the events. It was a sweet day even though the weather was quite dreary and we couldn't get her to go outside to walk the neighborhood with her lantern.  There are many famous works of art of this tale of Saint Martin that we had copies of around the house.

Long ago, there lived a good young man named Martin. Even as a boy, he knew that one day he would be expected to serve in the military. His father was an important military officer. And, though he desired a peaceful life outside of the military, he knew that it would be his duty to follow the life of his father. So, Martin joined the military, became an officer, and was eventually assigned to garrison duty in the town of Amiens.
One bitterly cold winter evening, the young Martin rode through the gates of Amiens on his fine proud horse. He was dressed in the regalia of his military unit: gleaming armor, a bright helmet, and a beautiful red cloak, lined with lambs wool. It was nearly freezing outside, but his thick cloak kept him warm. He was hardly aware of the cold. But then, as he approached the gates of the town, he saw a poor man, a beggar, dressed with clothes so ragged that he was practically bare. The man was shaking and blue with cold, but no one reached out to help him. People would pass through the gates, looking straight ahead, so their eyes would not meet with those of the poor, desperate man.
Martin, seeing this, was overcome with compassion. He rode straight to the poor man and took off his red cloak.  With one stroke of his sword he tore the lovely mantle in two. He wrapped half of the cloak around the freezing man and the other half around his own shoulders.
The people nearby watched in amazement. To see a fine military officer do such a thing was a ridiculous sight to many, but others were touched by the goodness that Martin showed.
That night, as Martin slept, he had a dream. A man appeared to him who looked so familiar, and he was wearing the half of the cloak Martin had given to the poor beggar. And then, Martin saw in the eyes of this man, and the light of the Divine which we all carry within us.
From that day on, Martin’s life was changed forever. He knew that he could no longer fight and harm other men as part of the military, for his true desire was to live a life of kindness, forgiveness, compassion and goodness.
Golden light is turning grey,
Mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees, their branches lift;
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.

Through the field the farmer goes,

Seeds of ripened corn he sows’
Trusts the earth will hold it warm,
Shelter it from cold and harm.

For he knows that warmth and light

Live there, hidden from our sight;
And beneath a sheltering wing,
Deep below, new life will spring!

(adapted from a story by Cerdiwen Anya Coit posted at www.herbnites.tripod.com/waldorfinspiredschool )

Monday, November 1, 2010

the sugar sprite

This year we heard from some friends about the Sugar Sprite!  Ah, what a dear little fairy this one is.  The Sugar Sprite feeds in Spring, Summer and early Autumn on all the nectar, honey and fruits she can find.  As the season turns colder and darker though, the flowers fade and fruits are scarce.  The Sugar Sprite has hardly enough to keep herself and her family nourished.  Luckily, she knows about how children on Hallowe'en collect more sweets than they can possibly eat.  If those little children leave a bag of candy on their doorstep the night after it is gathered (and after they have selected a few of the choicest morsels for themselves), the Sugar Sprite will gather it up and have enough to make it through the Winter until the flowers and fruits again blossom in the Spring.  In exchange for the kindness and generosity of the children who leave her such treasure, the Sugar Sprite leaves a small gift for them to find in the morning.

lantern walk

Each October/November we have a Lantern Walk to celebrate Martinmas, a celebration of inner light in the midst of the outer darkness of the approaching winter. Waldorf education places a special emphasis on festivals in community. Festivals anchor the human spirit to the year. It doesn't matter how festivals are celebrated --it's the celebrating, the ritual, the reverence, and the consistency within the cycle of the seasons that grows in a child (and in an adult!).
Saint Martin's legend is one of choices and service. The tale most associated with Martin is one in which he gives half of his cloak to a freezing beggar outside of the gates of the city of Samarobriva (Amiens). After splitting his cloak with his sword and sharing it with the suffering man, the soldier Martin has a dream in which he sees the beggar as a holy figure. Martin awakes and knows in his heart that he can no longer fulfill his duties as a soldier, but instead becomes a devoted man of God helping those in need.

Our walk this year wound through the candlelit Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden with various stops where the children were given small gifts.  (The children helped make their apple stamped wool capes in class earlier in the week.)  We started at twilight and ended in darkness.

I go outside with my lantern
My lantern goes outside with me
Above me shine the stars so bright
Down here on earth shine we
So shine my light in the still dark night
Rabimmel rabammel raboom
'Neath heaven's dome 'till we go home
Rabimmel rabammel raboom

(Oma prefers the original German.)
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