YARN - From the (shorter) Oxford English Dictionary:

Spun fibre of cotton, silk, wool, or flax.... fibre prepared for use in weaving, knitting...a fisherman's net...any of the strands of which a rope is composed...a (usually long or rambling) story or tale, especially an implausible, fanciful, or incredible one.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ritual and Reverence

I do not experience Waldorf as religious but I do feel the grounding and connecting effect of ritual and reverence.

There is a great deal of ritual in Waldorf education - whether it is the daily and weekly "rhythms' or the community events that mark the annual calendar, things happen in a predictable and comforting way.

As my daughter entered grade 1 this year I was moved to be standing in the circle of the school community with other parents, children and teachers all of whom had gathered to welcome the children to the grade school in word and song.  Each child was given a flower by a student in the graduating class with whom they had been paired, a gift that will be returned at the end of the year when those same students prepare to leave for high school.  On that first day my daughter and her classmates crossed the threshold into their formal education by passing under an arch of boughs held by their teachers from Kindergarten and in turn they each leaped joyfully into their education.

This week the families and teachers of the younger grades gathered in the dark, in the post-Hallowe'en bleakness, for the 'lantern walk'.  This early evening gathering is in celebration of St Martin and the story of how he shared his cloak with another whose need was greater. It is a simple event that honours the act of being a spark of light in the dark night, a spark of light in the world. It is a story that encourages us to be that warmth and light for ourselves and for others.  The opportunities to make this 'religious' or tied to the story of a faith tradition are there, but they are avoided in favour of a story of our shared humanity.

To meet in the dark of the late autumn night, on the brink of winter, with others - to walk in silence except for the repetition of a simple song celebrating hope and kindness and being called to help others and be good in the world - is an act of reverence.

I'm walking with my lantern,
My lantern walks with me.
Above the stars are shining,
Below are shining we.

The night is cold and dark and dim
Ra bimbel, ra bumbel, ra bimm.