Friday, December 9, 2011

lighting the path to christmas - the advent spiral

     Last week we participated in the annual Advent Spiral at Naiya's school.  The spiral is a longstanding Waldorf tradition whose origins seem to be a bit vague.  Like many symbolic traditions of the season, though, it is a beautiful ceremony lighting our way toward Christmas Day.  (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture that actual day in pictures.)
     Parents were invited to come watch as our children walked the spiral of boughs laid out on the floor in a darkened room with a beautiful lyre being played in the corner.  After the children arrived and were seated across from us, one by one, each child was handed a red apple holding an unlit candle.  Following the example of their teacher, each boy or girl reverently carried their candle along the path to the spiral's center where a larger lit candle burned atop a tree stump.  There, the apple candles were lit from the existing flame and, somewhere along the path back out of the spiral, the children placed their apple candles wherever they chose on one of the many golden stars along the path.  With each new candle the room brightened slightly and, in the end, the spiral glowed amidst a palpable sense of wonder.
     In our class, my daughter was the only child who refused to take part in this beautiful event.  She wouldn't get out of her seat. 
Not alone.
Not with her lovely teacher.
Not with me. 
She does, of late, have an inexplicable aversion to candles.  Perhaps that was it.  Perhaps it was something else.  No one pushed it.  She shared the experience even if she didn't take the steps herself I thought and I know now that something of it is working in her still...

     ...We've been playing a lot with ornaments as we unpack them to decorate the house and today I placed this string of stars in a spiral on the table.  I didn't think much of it but thought it looked pretty and didn't know where else to put them. 
     Naiya saw it and almost immediately, in movement and voice so indicative of that reverent day, proceeded to gather little people to walk the spiral path.
     She asked me to help her form the candles for children to carry (using scraps of beeswax) and each one made its way to the wax flame she placed in the center.  There they lit their tapers and, just like at school, left their little flames on the golden stars as they made their way back out.

     She didn't walk the spiral with her classmates that day but I know, somewhere inside, she's holding the light in her own heart and sharing its warmth and glow as she travels her own path.

The gift of light we shall thankfully take
But it shall not be alone for our sake
The more we give light, the one to the other
It grows and gives light, and shines even farther.


  1. Sounds like such a beautiful event, I was just reading about this type of celebration today. I love how you have a little play one set up as well, and it is nice that your daughter was able to experience the ceremony in her own way- love that :)

  2. How precious! I find our new traditions creeping into my children's play. Even when I think they probably don't fully "get" something, I usually find them working it out in play.

  3. Lots of things are taken inwardly into the soul and though not necessarily actioned at the time they sit with a child and resound later, sometimes much later in life. cheers Marie


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