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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas and Holy Nights

I had said I would give a story for each of the Holy Nights, but I changhed my mind, instead I would give a list of virtues for each one of the nights in order to inspire all of us to create either a story or a memory from childhood that we can tell our children before going to sleep.

24th December-Devotion becomes the force of renunciation.

25th December-Equanimity becomes progress.

26th December-Persistence becomes inner happiness.

27th December-True generosity becomes purification.

28th December-Compassion becomes freedom.

29th December-Clarity of thought, courtesy becomes sensitivity.

30th December-Inner contentment becomes serenity.

1st January-Patience becomes knowledge.

2nd January-Mastery of the thought and speech becomes truth.

3rd January-Courage becomes redemption.

4th January-Silence becomes prayer.

5th January- Magnamity becomes Love.


Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fourth Sunday

The Purple Angel

The last Sunday before Christmas an angel with a soft and warm lavender cape appears in the sky and flies over the earth, bringing in his hands a big lyre. He plays with this lyre a sweet music and sings in harmony and clear voice.. But to be able to hear this music the hearts have to be very silent and attentive.

His music is the great song of Peace, the song of the Baby Jesus and the Kingdom of God that comes to the earth. Many angels go with him, singing as well, and they rejoice in the sky.

Then all the seeds that are sleeping on the earth awaken, and the earth itself listens to it and shivers: The song of the angels is saying that God does not forget the earth, and that someday it will be a Paradise again.




Soline and Pierre Lienhard

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Third Sunday

On the third Sunday, and angel completely in white light descends to the Earth. He has in his right hand a ray of sun which has a wonderful power.

He goes to all humans in whose heart the red angel has found true love, and he touches them with his ray of light. Then this light penetrates in the hearts of those humans and warms them from inside.

Is like the sun itself would ilumine through their eyes and descend through hands, feet and all the body. Even the poorest of man, the most humble ones, are transformed and start to ressemble the angels, if they embrace some love in their hearts.

But not everybody sees this white angel. Only the rest of the angels and those men who have been ilumined with his light. This light is the same that on Christmas day makes possible to see the child in the manger.

Soline and Pierre Lienhard


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Second Sunday

The Red Angel

In a day like today, a second angel descends from the heavens; He is dressed with a big red cape and brings a big golden basket in his left arm. The basket is empty and the angel longs to fill it and then bring it back to the Throne of God, but what is it that would be inside?

The basket is very delicate and fine, because is made out of sun rays; so it should not be filled with heavy or hard things.

The Angel visits all the Earth, and very discreetly looks in all the homes. What is he looking for? He looks into the hearts of all men to see if he finds in their hearts a little bit of truly pure love. And this love he keeps under his cape, and brings it into the heavens. There, the inhabitants of heaven. the angels and the souls of the departed, take that love and from it they make light for the stars.

Soline and Pierre Lienhard


Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Sunday

In order to reflect the change of rhythm in this Advent season, the posts will be shorter and on Saturday, each week describing the story of an angel annunciating Christmas.

The following week, concerning the twelve Holy Nights, I will post each day a story, which I will tell my children at night before going to bed.


The Blue Angel:

How do we know that Christmas is approaching? we cannot perceive it with our eyes, because the days and nights go on as usual, and men live and take care of their business as usual; we cannot perceive it with our ears, because the sounds resounding are the same as always, the cars passing by, the planes landing, the children screaming, and so on.

But nonetheless, four weeks before Christmas something very special happens: a great angel comes down from heaven to invite the inhabitants of the earth to prepare for Christmas; this angel has a blue cape, weaved with silence and peace. Most of the people do not perceive him, beause they are busy with many other things, but the angel sings with a deep voice, and only those who have an attentive heart can listen.

His song goes like this: "The heaven is coming to earth, God comes to inhabit the hearts of Men, Pay attention! Thrust the door wide open!

So it is, that in a day like today, the angel passes by, and talks to all mankind, and those who listen take care in preparing Christmas, singing some songs and lighting candles....

Soline and Pierre Lehnard

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Advent

These excerpts are from a book on Festivals:

"The movement of the sun and the stars in relation to the earth determine the course of the Christian year, but each of its festivals reveals part of the content of Christianity. the year begins just before the natural turning point of midwinter. It starts quietly with a season of preparation, of waiting, of listening for what is to come. It begins, like the day, with a quiet period of twilight in which the sky grows brighter and the early light gradually seeps through the grey of night, until the dusk is at last filled within the mighty glow of the sun's rising. Advent is the twilight which comes before the sunrise of Christmas. the mood of this time is quiet contemplation. the great truth of Christ's coming will be the theme of Christmas. it can be taken up in thought and pondered in the heart during the four weeks of preparation. The sense of expectancy increases as the thought deepen. the mood of anticipation gives the season its special character...."

One of the things that help in this is the actual house preparation, with more time indoors, we are having laundry better folded, the tidiness shows glowing in the living areas and the bedrooms are finally at peace. Also the starting of decorations, with lights around, pictures of the Mother and Child, the advent wreath, the tree without yet ornaments, the laying of the scenery for the manger scene, everything beautiful to hint at  Christmas. The Advent spiral is also a traditional custom that exemplifies this silent, quiet, reverent walk to the center that lies ahead.



The Light of the Spirit in the House of the Body

"This season is one of struggle and its tranquility will often have to be won in face of disturbance. All the hindrances arise that could make hard and difficult the coming of Christmas as a spiritual event. Foremost among them is the commercial Christmas of the present day, drawing the interest of people to outer things, filling the quiet with material distractions.....This is not however the only kind of hindrance. Struggles between people, disturbances in destiny, often occur just in these weeks, which are rarely uneventful in ordinary life. the forces against quiet and peace of mind are out to shatter the true mood of Advent. Strength of will is needed to renew tranquility again and again, from within, against discouragement. Advent is not to be experienced without effort."

Every year, at this time, conflicts start to abound in my life, outer and inner conflicts, and I like to remind myself that this shall too pass, and that I need to show endurance in the face of upheavals, a willful yet soft endurance, like the whisper of a humming sound under a storm.

During our months of Spanish rhymes and verses I have been  using the material from Tamara Chubarovsky, a speech therapist from Spain, now though I start to use my own, and for this season we will include K , P, N, sounds for the working of dwarfs beneath the soil:

Click, clock, click, clock,
los enanitos van picando.
Click, clock, click, clock,
piedras preciosas bajo el manto.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saint Martin

Following this trend of relationships and the true bride, we have stumbled upon the story "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". It is in the Christopherus 2nd grade curriculum but also in the internet: http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/323.htm

It is for me such an analogy of the relationship with our spouse, and how when falling in love we "see" the real person, their higher self, their true being, yet this vision fades away with time and it is a struggle to both recapture it and mantain it, just like the true Princess struggle through the journey. We start then complaining about our spouse, seeing the weaknesses instead of their virtues and pretty soon we are tearing the whole building down. Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.


It is through this vision of the higher self that also our own redemption is linked, as long as we still see the best of our spouse, there will be the impulse for them to become like that and the same for us. But many times we are paralized to do the change that is necessary in us in order to "see" again. Fear and pride stand in our way, we may feel that we are right and the spouse is wrong, or that we do not have the courage to change what is an habit. It is here that Christ again brings the possibility for us to leap with faith, and embrace that first vision with a strong grasp.

Around Martinmas times also the darkness is stronger, and for the same reason the light in us is prompted to shine brighter, this is the story of the young Martin, who then became Saint Martin:


How Saint Martin got his name: ( Catalan version)

Martin's father was a brave soldier from Hungary, under the commandment of the Roman Emperor, he traveled a lot and when his wife was pregnant and ready to give birth, she called him to come back home. The baby was born and everone was very happy, it was boy. The father, who was pagan brought him to the Altar of Mars and with the sword he made three movements around the baby, saying Martin, Martin, Martin, which mean little Mars.

The father was sent to Italy and the wife begged him to come along, -How come your son will learn to be a good soldier if he is not around you?. The father acquiesced and all the family moved to Italy where Martin grew up to be a good boy, he inherited the courage from his father and the good heart from his mother, he would usually defend animals and small children from unjustice.

Once Martin saw three boys who were torturing frogs in the bank river, they were tyeing with rope the legs and then left them in the water to see them struggling, Martin cryed: -What are you doing? the boys were ready to put the ropes on him too, and as the biggest boy got closer with the ropes Martin stampeded againt him and threw him in the water; while the remaining boys were helping their friend out of the river, Martin got the ropes of the frogs loose and softly, tenderly put them in the water again.

At 12 years old, tha father one day told the family about a new religion that was sprouting in the area, they were called Christians, they had the sign of a fish to mark their doorposts and some of them were refusing to be soldiers, they said that they were called to be all brothers. Martin went to the house in the village which the Christians use as meeting place and he listened to the songs. One day an older man and a youth came to the door and saw Martin, the youth invited him in and that is how Marin got to know the Christians for the first time. They told them the story about their master, how he had died on the cross and how he had resurrected, and that now it was possible for all to see him, and that they were all called to brotherly love.

Martin could not talk about these things at home, but he listened to the Christians speaking and his heart grew warm for their people.

At 15 yearslold Saint Martin was appointed to a teacher, to learn the art of soldiers, bow and arrow, jabaline, horse-riding, etc... and he was sent to the borders, to fight against the Germans. He served diligently the army for some years but eventhough he had lost contact with the Christians, his heart was empty with this job and longed for something.

One year Martin was at the border between France and Germany, it was the time to receive new clothes for the army especially those in good ranks. Martin got a new big coat, all lined with sheepskin and it was so long that it covered part of his horse as well. By November, one of the coldest nights he was travelling to Amiens, the icy winds were swirling any leaves that were left, it was so cold that even the ravens did not dare to fly, when all of a sudden, in front of him, Martin saw a man half naked, behind a rock that scarcely protected him from the winds. Saint Martin got closer, he took his sword and cut his coat in two, giving half of it to the beggar.

That night, when in deep sleeping  Martin had a dream, and he heard someone calling his voice, Martin, Martin! he saw two angels clothed with light bringing the half of the coat that he had given the beggar, and behind them the figure of the beggar, shining with light and with a radiant look in his eyes, he was saying: -Martin, you have clothed me while my body was naked, you have done this to me, as the least of your brothers, come and receive my peace.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cambric shirt

We are getting ready for this afternoon biodynamic work, we will stir the preparations in rain water for one hour, sing songs and then go around town spraying in the yards and gardens.

One of the songs that we will sing is a famous one from England, Scarborough Fair, and it reminds me of the continuous work that we do in life, in relationships, to see the best in every person. I am reading a book on The Meaning of Love by Soloviev and there are many quotes from the texts that are describing this striving:

"I can only acknowledge the absolute significance of a given person, or believe in him (without which true love is impossible), by affirmation of oneself in th sphere of the absolute, by affirming him in God, and consequently by belief in God himself, and in myself, as possessing in God the center and root of my own existence. This triune faith is already a certain internal act, and by this act is laid the first basis of a true union of the man with his other and the restoration in it (or in them) of the image of God......
But in order for the faith to be a living faith, it must set itself steadfastly against that existing society where meaningless chance builds its dominion upon the play of animal passions and, still worse, human passions. Against these hostile powers, believing faith has only one defensive weapon-endurance to the end. Te earn its bliss, it must take up its cross. In our materialistic society it is impossible to preserve true love, unless we understand and accept it as a moral achievement. Not without reason does the Orthodox Church in her  marriage ceremony make mention of holy martyrs and compare their crowns to the bridal crowns.
Religious faith and moral achievement safeguard an individual human and his love from being engulfed by materialistic society dyring this lifetime, but they do not give a triumph over death....An individual can really be saved, i.e, can regenerate and immortalize his individual life in true love, only conjointly or together with others."

This ties also with the lecture of the Gospel for this week, Reveltaions 3, 1-6, where John talks to the Church of Sardis, as they are asleep, yet some of them are worthy and will be clothed with the white garment. As we ponder on these thoughts and carry the work for the Earth, we bring this verse:

Let us but rightly, oh Spirit of Worlds,
Be penetrated
By spirit-grasping aspiration,
that we won't miss
That, what can be done for the good of the Earth
And for the progress of the Earth.
to wrest from Pride and Fear,
in the right sense.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

La Castanyera ( The Chestnut Lady)

In my country of origin we do not have Halloween, but we have la Castanyada, a festival with roasted chestnuts, baked sweet potatoes and panellets. It is also very special time of the year as the colors are still in the tress but fading on the ground, and the winter peeks its nose through the clouds. The day after is All Saints, and the families gather to remember the loved ones that passed away.


This is a story of that time of the year, situated in Barcelona, around 1960:



The Chestnut Lady (La Castanyera)

Once upon a time there was a boy that lived with his family in the older part of town, where old castles and turrets where seen through the more recent buildings, and where alleys and crooked streets made the walking every day a small adventure. Each Saturday morning him and his father went together to get the newspaper from the newstand, a dozen of blocks away from home, and they spent that time talking about the past week, and the week ahead.

It came to pass that the fall season was coming once again, (it was the ninth one for the boy), and the streets got darker in the morning, with leaves from the maples trees whirling all around and making deep carpets to walk through. At that time of the year, the Chestnut Lady (Castanyera) also made her appearance, she was an old lady with hooded cape and cloaks that would stand in the corner of Santa Maria Street and the Pi Square, with her small fire burning in front of her, with an iron low pot, roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes for the passers-by. Here and there a person would come and she would prepare a little cone with old newspaper and rake some chestnuts from the grill on top of the pot, and slide them carefully inside the newspaper cone, then she would fold the upper part and hand the nice warm bundle of chestnuts to the client.

The boy and father had to pass her on their way to the newstand, and the boy, asked his father What is the name of the Chestnut Lady? I do not know, said his father, and they went along. The next Saturday, again in passing the Chestnut Lady, the boy asked his father: Where does she live? I do not know, answered his father. On the third Sunday approaching the end of October, again the boy asked: Does she have family? I do not know, said his father.

One block further, the father stopped to talk with an acquaintance of him for a few minutes, they were talking about some business and the weather for the week. After bidding farewell to each other, the father suddenly realized that the boy was not by his side. He looked and called around and around, turning to every corner, and looking into every spot where the boy may be lost. It lasted for one hour, and the father, in despair, turned his steps back home to look for help. But, when passing by the Chestnut Lady, he suddenly stopped, and for some reason, instead of asking about his lost boy, he asked about her name, the name of the Chestnut lady, which was Esperansa, and he still spared some time asking where did she live, even he inquired about her family and relatives in town. Immediately after that last question was answered, the face of the boy appeared through the corner of the Pi Square, and father run to embrace him and held him in his arms.

 After that day, they always stopped at the corner of Santa Maria street and Pi square, to talk with the Chestnut Lady and have some time with her.

(Soon we will do some drawings for the story, edit it and make a small book for children.)

Below there is a recipe for the "panellets". We usually put way less sugar in the mix, or substitute with honey, and we use almond flour instead of grinding the almonds ourselves. Also we do mix the same amount of coconut into the dough for the coconut type.

Prep Time: 8 hours, 45 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 49 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 -1 cup water
  • 1 small potato
  • gtrated peel of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 drops lemon juice
  • Toppings:
  • pine nuts
  • sweetened cocoa powder
  • candied fruit
  • Flavorings:
  • instant coffee powder
  • coconut flakes

Preparation:

Makes approximately 32 cookies.
Blanch almonds, then grind in food processor until almonds are a fine dust.
Peel the potato and cut into quarters. Boil potato in a saucepan until cooked. Drain water and mash with a fork.
Place sugar in a medium saucepan. Pour 1/2 cup water into the pan and stir to dissolve sugar. Add more water to completely dissolve sugar if necessary. Place on medium heat on stovetop and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add 3-4 drops of lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is a thick syrup.
Remove saucepan from heat. Using a large wooden spoon, gradually stir in ground almonds, potato and grated lemon peel. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 380F degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Spoon out dough with a teaspoon. Roll dough into small balls in your palms. Then roll the balls in powdered cocoa or pine nuts. If using pine nuts, brush each with a bit of egg white. Place on greased cookie sheet.
If you want to flavor the cookies, separate a portion of the dough and with your hands, work in a bit of instant coffee flakes, candied fruit or cinnamon. Then make individual balls.
Bake cookies just long enough to brown the pine nuts - about 4 minutes. Remove immediately using a spatula before cookies cool.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Winds

We have been having strong strange winds, coming from different directions, and a shift in temperatures, which has come in right timing for the "rosa dels vents" (wind wheel) in 3rd grade. We have an old drawing from Catalunya, where the various names of the winds are labeled, (I could not find the names in English), and we have been singing the songs of the fishermen, as their wisdom of fishing was weaved into the lyrics for generations to come.

Bufa ventet de garbi,
vent en popa i mar bonansa
anirem cap a llevant,
fins la frontera de Fransa.



The Christopherus Curriculum also has a poem for fishermen, which indicates the best wind for sailing and fishing, so as you can see, the trade has been present and lively during our week.

It is one of these things that happens with teaching, you set off to start the week with some things in mind, and then, all of a sudden, something comes up that makes you change the directions or add things from a different file, and something really magical comes about. The children are really listening to you, with a special attention, as if suddenly you were talking a new language that they could also understand, and joy fills the room and the hours as the theme or motive unfolds during the week.

That is one of the reasons why I do not prepare-structure too much my lessons, enough to know what to do, but also enough to forget about them when inspiration comes in and switch to the living material.

It is in doing the exercises each night, picturing the children in my mind, reflecting backwards through the day and lifting it all up for improvement that I found the answer to my questions, and it is waldorf pedagogy which supports this kind of unfolding of the material lessons, this kind of relationship with the world around us and in us, that makes work so much like play.

As much as the fishermen with their nets ready, the wind in favour, yet always ready to shift the sail, to turn the boat for the changing winds of life, for the calling of God.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Inch by Inch

This week we have been finishing the measurements block for the third grade, and autumn finally has settled in after a fortnight gift of Indian Summer weather.

As we gather inwardly again, we sing a song which has come up after this poem.

Inch by inch,
row by row,
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone keep them safe below,
'Til the rain comes tumbling down


(fa fa re mi bemol, mi bemol, do
fa fa re re mi bemol, mi bemol do do
fa fa re re mi bemol, mi bemol, do do
si bemol, re fa fa fa re re re.)

It goes well for the kindergarten and first grade to acompany with their fingers as if it were raining, clapping the rhythm firts with the index finger, then with two fingers, then with three, four, five and then coming down again...ending the song  with just the finger index clapping.

The third grade steps into singing one part for the first time, she keeps repeating the first verses Inch by inch, Row by row, for the whole song, while the others sing the remainding verses. As the song goes along it makes the impression that different weavers are working at the same time, yet the goal is unified and that little by little, "inch by inch", the path is trodden, if the work and reverence are kept alive within us.

It is also a good picture for the gardening project, planting garlic this week and putting the garden to sleep for the winter, as we wait for the rain of spring to come again and wake nature upwardly. The garlic also is ingested more often during this season, an attempt to purify the blood and strentghen the body for the battle.

Finally the verses for this week from "In the Light of the Child" also remind us of the help in our way.

Refreshed, renewed, replenished I am standing
Within this world of golden autumn light.
A wondrous, mighty sword the gods are handing
To those whose souls with fire of love burn bright.

This flashing sword like sunrays streaming, searing,
In darkness shines and makes me firm and sure.
No dragon on my path need I be fearing;
I'm armed with light-God-given, sun-forged, pure!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soul Mood

And when the golden summer sun grows weaker in our skies,
I know it really does not die-it just goes through a change.
For it has given its very self to me, in me it lies
As seed within my deepest heart-a thing most rich and strange.

This sun-seed-I must guard it, precious in my heart as gold.
It will live on in me through nights of winter, dark and cold,
Till lo, in spring a radiant, beautous flower shall unfold!

Autumn, First October week, "In the Lights of a Child" (Michael Hedley Burton)

This is the verse that we have in our blackboard this week; as the 3rd old grader notes in her weather journal, the date and weather, we also read aloud these lines. It is for us a connection with the seasons and the earth, which eventually brings us closer to Christ, and to free morality, to be able to feel in our hearts the consequences of our actions, and to decide accordingly.

There are two rythms that I aspire to bring to our days, one is the awe-filling discovery of the world, the other is the inward peaceful nourishment of the soul. These two moods interweave in our lifes ( or so I hope), as we do lessons, or walks, cook or mend...

In the following drawings each of them is somehow portrayed:

With the D in the first grade as an open door through the mountain, that crossing of worlds, between the known and the unknown.

With the closing verse for the morning, in soft pastels, strenghtening spirits with food for the body and soul.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michael

I have been reading "What Men Live By" by Leo Toltsoy, during this week, and even though the portraying of Saint Michael in this story is not the usual one seen in these days, with sword and ready to fight the dragon, it is nonetheless very adequate for us. We could even for a moment pretend we are in his role, and learn the 3 truths that God has commanded him to search for:

-"Learn what dwells in man"
-"What is not given to man"
-"What men live by"


Both Simon the Shoemaker and Matryona his wife, start the encounter with Saint Michael with lower human traits, with selfishness, greed, fear, etc...but in the course of the story, these traits are overcomed by love. Matryona changes her foul thought into a loving gaze and Simon changes his mind and retraces back his steps to help him.

I have talked in the past about communities, how people striving to form a community may find it so difficult to sustain the effort, and it is because we are so separated from the spiritual world, that the differences amongst us are made unsurmountable. Some people may look for community for wrong reasons, egotistic intentions, or plainly self-interest. yet how can we humans strive for something better than that?

We find it in the first community, marriage, where two have to become one, and where the natural binding is again, plainly not enough, nowadays we have more independency from each other because we have more independency from the spiritual, but until we gain again the truths about reality, about the spiritual origin of all, and we consciously make the work to align super-naturally with these truths, all will fail, marriage, and  communities at large.

The quotes at the beginning of Leo Tolstoy's story are worth thinking:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, beacsue we love the brethren. He that love not abideth in death. I Epistle St John iii.14

Whoso hath the world's goods, and beholded his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us no love in word, neither with tongue; but in deed and truth. iii 17-18

Love is God;and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. iv 7-8

No man had beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abideth in us. 1v 12

God is love;and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. iv 16

If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he had not seen? iv 20

One of my teachers, the director of a school in Spain, told me once about her youthful longings to work in a community. As time went by, she confessed that just striving to hold a school smoothly in a way that everybody was heard and honored, was enough community for the time-being.

I have also the same longing, just striving to hold the family in loving relationships, to strive to "see" every person that I encounter and thus give them my attention, to be part of groups striving to do the same, to overcome our selfishness, and connect again with God so we can truly love one another, that maybe is enough community for the time-being.

May Michael protect us in that walk. May the iron of his sword be victorious in the cosmic spaces and in our blood.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Atentiveness

I have a quote of Mother Teresa in my kitchen blackboard and has stayed there for over two years now. Every time I would look at it I would think is time to change it, initially it was designed as a board that would have different quotes and mottos changing periodically; yet it did not happen. This quote seemed more adequate to any other thoughts, comments or sayings that have passed my way during all that time, that is until last week.



For me it is rather special because it stresses the importance of doing things out of love, and I may be caught here and there doing things fast and efficient, yet with no love, and I know this is the cause of much unhappiness around me. What is the point if the house is in order, the curriculum followed, the lessons done, the meals nutritious, the phone calls and conversations dealed with, if there is no love? Sometimes I need to catch myself reading the quote and remembering that is better to dine on onions and smiles that on roast beef and tears.

This also can be followed up to our mind, what are the thoughts behind every action, what is the real intention after every duty? When slowing down the true thoughts can come to light, and then we can deal with them, either accept our selfishness or ignorance, or change them for the better.

I have been asking for some time about love, how to love better, how to love beyond human love. And this is the quote that will replace the old one in my kitchen blackboard:

"Atentiveness is love"

I know there are many other higher wisdom writings to put, (God is love...) yet this one in its simpleness captures one pathway to love, atentiveness. To be attentive to the carrots when I am cutting them, to pay attention to the child when asks a question, to really listen to the husband when he says something, to be attentive with my whole heart to any situation.

I know some teachings of the east like yoga or alike train the mind through breath exercises and they do good out of these, because the mind is centered, yet the path that I am choosing goes searching for good in the opposite direction, in training the mind, the thought process, which in turn changes the breath via the heart. This is western, modern (compared with old eastern wisdom) and thus separated from the new age movement, it is the path of coming back to God through the Earth, through Christ.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Basic

I wanted to bring up some of the basic tools/arrows for this epoch, Rudolf Steiner gave six exercises which are fundamental to his meditative work, and also exercises for each day of the week.

I find that if in the morning I recall myself to do this work and read also the calendar of the soul, http://www.antroposofi.org/TomMellett/index.htm
things are clearer and better during the day.

The following notes are taken from another source, yet the information can be found in two of the basic books, "Theosophy"http://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA009/English/AP1971/GA009_index.html


No. 1 - The Control of Thought

The first exercise has to do with the control of thinking. It is designed to keep our minds from wandering, to focus them, in order to strengthen our meditative work. There are several versions of this exercise, one version is:

Select a simple object - a pin, a button, a pencil. Try to think about it exclusively for five minutes. You may think about the way the object is manufactured, how it is used, what its history is. Try to be logical and realistic in your thinking. This exercise is best if practiced faithfully every day. You may use the same object every day or a new object each day, as you choose.

No. 2 - The Control of Will

Choose a simple action to perform each day at a time you select. It should be something you do not ordinarily do; Then make it a duty to perform this action at that time each day. Rudolf Steiner gives the example of watering a flower each day at a certain time. As you progress, additional tasks can be added at other times.

No. 3 - Equanimity

The third exercise is the development of balance between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the heights of pleasure and the depths of despair. Strive for a balanced mood. An attempt should be made not to become immoderately angry or annoyed, not to become anxious or fearful, not to become disconcerted, nor to be overcome by joy or sorrow.


No. 4 Positiveness

This exercise is the development of a positive attitude to life. Attempt to seek for the good, praiseworthy, and beautiful in all beings, all experiences and all things. Soon you will begin to notice the hidden good and beautiful that lies concealed in all things.


No. 5 Opennes

For this exercise, make the effort to confront every new experience with complete open-mindedness. The habit of saying, "I never heard that" or "I never saw that before" should be overcome. The possibility of something completely new coming into the world must be left open, even if it contradicts all your previous knowledge and experience.

No. 6 Balance

If you have been trying the earlier exercises of thinking, will, equilibrium, positivity and tolerance, you are now ready to try them together two or three at a time, in varying combinations until they become natural and harmonious.


SATURDAY: Right Thinking
Be aware of your thoughts. Gradually learn to separate in your thoughts the essential from the nonessential, the eternal from the transitory, and truth from mere opinion. When listening to conversation, try to become inwardly still, renouncing all agreement and, more important, all negative judgments (criticism and rejection). Do this in both thought and feeling.

 
SUNDAY: Right Judgment
Decide on even the most insignificant issues only after full, well-founded deliberation and reflection. Abstain from doing anything that has no significant reason. Once we are convinced that a decision is correct, adhere to it with inner steadfastness. This is “right judgment” because it was made independently of attraction or aversion.

 
MONDAY: Right Word
Avoid the usual sort of conversation that involves jumbled, simultaneous cross-talk. Listen thoughtfully to every statement and answer. Consider every approach. Never speak without a reason. Prefer silence. Try not to talk too much or too little. Listen quietly and process what you hear.

 
TUESDAY: Right Deed
Our outer actions should not disturb others. When we are moved inwardly (by conscience) to act, carefully weight how hest to employ the occasion for the good of the whole, and the happiness of others and the eternal. When you act from yourself and your own initiative, weigh the consequences of your actions in the most fundamental way.

 
WEDNESDAY: Right Standpoint
In ordering your life, live in harmony with nature and spirit. Do not get buried in the external knickknacks of life. Avoid all that brings restlessness and haste to your life. Be neither impetuous nor lazy. Consider life as a means of inner work and development and act accordingly.

 
THURSDAY: Right Striving
Take care not to do anything beyond your power, but don’t leave anything undone that is within your ability. Pose goals that are connected with the highest of human responsibilities. In relation to these exercises, for example, try to develop yourself so that later—if not immediately–you may be better able to help and advise others. Let the preceding exercises become a habit!

 
FRIDAY: Right Memory
Strive to learn as much as possible from life. Nothing happens that does not give us the opportunity to gather experiences that are useful for life. If you have done something incorrectly or incompletely, it becomes an opportunity to do it correctly or completely later on. When you see others act, observe them with the same end in mind (but not without love). Do nothing without looking at past experiences that may help in your decisions and your actions. If you are attentive, you can learn much from everyone.


One thing that I want to mention is that even though these are basic exercises, it does not mean that they are easy, or that just beginners undertake them. It is actually comforting to know that very experienced people still humbly admit to stumble with these basic methods, be it a warning and an incentive to start the work, and  to pick it up again whenever it falls.

(On the side I wanted to comment that Steiner at points recommended to start with meditative exercises during the phase of waxing moon, and not during the waning phase which just begun.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Michaelmas

So, we are getting ready for Michaelmas. Besides the adult work, this year I wanted to build up a festival for the children that mirrored last year's celebration, when the children were being knighted with silk capes. On that occasion it was the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Languedoc, which accompanied during those September times.

This year as I am retelling the story of Don Quijote, it would be also a similar situation, where the children get to hear the story of the knighting just before they celebrate their own.

Holy Grail Seal: The transformation of evil into good.
We are rehearsing some songs that are living in us at this season, and reflect the conflict that encompasses the human being as the summer spiritual strength fades away, and the consciousness is left more alone to work. It is in this mood that we enter the circle every Friday, with the renewed hope in our freedom and in taking initative, for the conquering of evil and transforming it into good.
The children hear us singing with trust and conviction, and they can see too how autumn brings decay and greyness to the previously colored harvest landscape, yet the forces in us defend the castle from perishing and thus it thrives with inner light.

Steiner said that the Michael festival should not be done if it could not be done properly. We are, nonetheless, humbly trying to reflect for our children the inner experiences that the soul lives in this season, and we strive to gather the unity of different individuals to fight together against darkness.

For Michaelmas 29th September then we do as follows, songs, story, ceremony of the capes. There is clay to be worked, as an element of cold, moist earthly substance, that needs much of our warmth to be transformed and worked upon. There is also a slightly sweet cake (marzipan) in form of a dragon to remind us the sweetness of victory ahead.

September (by Bittleston)

Into the ripening
Of earth's great gifts
the mists of autumn
Begin to be woven.
We feel the touches
Of winter's coming.
The gentle earth
has suffered conflict
 Of man with man.
Dust is the witness
Of faithless hearts,
Of cruel thoughts.
May we learn
To care for the earth
Through the purpose of Michael,
Lord of the starry iron,
And the help of Raphael
Spirit of the morning dew.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sympathy vs antipathy

We have been on vacation for a while, visting old friends and making new ones. It has been a delight yet we are also glad to be back and starting our homeschool year. Today was our first day and we accomplished much. We have set the forms of the homeschool day, the verses and songs for opening and closing, the fuctions of the space and also details like the weather chart, etc...

There is something special about starts and something special about friendships too, I think that sometimes we may be carried by the sweet beginnings of a relationship, and yet forget that in the older relationships new things can arise too if we are open to it.

I have found examples of this in this last trip where older friends had been moving in different paths of life and thus have less things in common between them, but as I listen closer, it does seems that a lot can be united where distance abides.

The same holds true for antipathy and sympathy, we may seem attracted to some kind of personalities, and get to befriend the same type of people, perhaps if we are of one temperament we feel inclined to like the opposite one, and vice-versa, but is is in overcoming this law of sympathy that we can exercise our full human freedom, in choosing to be friends to those that we might not feel inclined to, usually the ones that hold some likeness to us, that some truth about ourselves is discovered and yielded to the service of the highest. ( That is one of the benefit in having children that have the same temperament working together for a while, their temperaments soften up with each other's company)


I have been observing sunflowers for a while now, following the indications of observation exercises to get to know the essence of the plants, and I discovered that after a while, a relationship with the sunflowers arose, somehow the thoughts of sunflowers got intermingled with my daily life and at some point the picture came of the whole plantation, where the spaces in between them got brighter and intense, whereas the sunflowers themselves difused in the background.

 It is this kind of exercise that also helps us see through our human nature, and focus on the spirit that resides in us, thus vanishing anger, jealousy, hatred and other such like thoughts from our life.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gleaning

There is a group of homeschooling families in town that help participate in the Gleaning Project of the VSN (Valley Stewardship Network).

We come together once a month, in the harvest season, and gather the left produce in the fields as the old gleaners did. The following day, we go to an elder residency house, and distribute the goods among the residents


As we go along, we sing the songs that are growing dear to our heart:


It is in the spirit of serving that we really enjoy this group, and we hope in the future more things can be thought of to help the senior citizens, in what they really need.  There is some research into this question, and I am waiting for to hear some more of it, from the Coros Institute, an institute dedicated to creating dialogues between individuals or organizations committed to social change. http://corosinstitute.org/

It is something that is also resounding from many conversations, that one's actions are as needed as one's thoughts, and that the direction of the improvement comes from directing our thinking, passing through the feeling center and flowing out to the will. It is there that we can thus say: To Know, To Love, To Serve.

In regards of this, I will be working this fall in the book The Imitation of Christ, by Kempis, and will look for opportunities to engage as as a family in this Opus, Obra, for lack of a better english word, Action in the world around us, through opening our heart to what the head is listening.


The following poem is from Adam Bittleston, Meditative Prayers for Today.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Warmth

The autumn days are peeking through. It has been already 5 weeks that we have noticed a change in the weather, plants and gardens were bursting with fullness and they started to yield fruit as the days grew shorter. We still are in the middle of August but nonetheless,  we also have been getting ready for school days and the fall.

Warmth is a very special chapter to consider for children, as they incarnate it is very important to provide layers of fabric as well as love, that will hold the etheric in its working of providing warmth, and other aspects of growing up. It is also important for us parents and care-givers, to protect our own sources of warmth and enkindle them inwardly as the days grow cold outiside.

It is for this resaon that every summer we work on knitting hats for the children, we do a simple pattern which allows the ears to be protected and bring a beautiful rounded face, we call them "romantic bonnets", and they are done with wool, and cotton, the wool ones are layered with a silk underneath.


We also pay special atention at those feet, which have been free and running wild in the hot weather, but need to be clothed indoors already, and outdoors soon. We are very fond of "Hannah Anderson" version of slippers, and for lack of industriousness in that regard, we have been using theirs.

All in all, three layers are recommended for the upper part of the body, and two layers for below the navel. I found that the more these things are taken care of, with patience and ample time to do the dressing and undressing of children, the better the love flows through us.

Another important aspect is nutritionally, how to change gradually from the salads and raw food diet of summer, to soups and slow cooked meals of the winter. This also belongs to the warmth availability, as the digestion processes change according to the seasons too and have a helping hand in our conscious undertaking of the kitchen duties.

Finally, to wrap ourselves with beauty and reverence for the unfolding of this change, may open windows of inspirations for each child under our care, what they really need this year? How we can really help? Bringing these questions before we fall asleep may result in blossoming answers.

Excerpt of "Practical Home Care Medecine" in warmth:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three in one

We had a wonderful opportunity to hear Dennis Klocek speak this last weekend in Viroqua. One of the points he stressed on is the importance of the spiritual relationship with the elementals and a way to work with them through observation of nature, processes and rhythms, description of them, imagination that comes forward and silence ( bringing the picture backward in our mind for example).

One of the exercises was with a series of pictures with clay and asphalt cracks:
Which turned for me to an interesting starting point for a discussion. The cracks could be looked at their central focal point, as happening when two forces opposing each other enter into contact/conflict. The image of the cracks show us a response in the physical world of this impact by three lines 120 degrees apart in the plane perpendicular to those opposing forces. This is to say, the result of two polarities is a trinity in the perpendicular plane formed betwen them.

It has been for ten years a thought about how the two pillars are joined in the cabbalistic tree of life, truth and mercy, justice and grace in a way that is not a combination of the opposites but something superseding combinations that makes a third thing anew between them, love, Christ.

There is lately a re-occurrent conflict by the two streams of thought (Platonists and Aritotelians) that is brought to us, in groups and talks, and again the Moebuis form seems to have something to say about it, and how the distinctual people can come together and have encounters at some point, or plane as it is described in the next figure:


As I was reading, (by chance), "From the History&Contents of the First Section of the Esoteric School", the concluding remarks by Hella Wiesenberger, it came more obvious that the conflict could be also in regarding the Anthroposophical Society from one hand and the anthroposophical movement in another.

"In the struggle toward that end (the re-constitution of the Society), ....the resolve was born to overcome the polarity of movement and Society by placing himself in the center"

"From the tremendous importance he attached to the polarity of Movement and Society, it almost goes without saying that Rudolf Steiner could not appoint a successor for the continuation of the impulse inaugurated at that time:"that hencefort the anthroposophical movement will be formed so that it gives no further attention to anything but what the spiritual world requires of it."(Dornach, April 12, 1924)"

Here there could be now questions and answers about the actual esoteric school, and the actual Society, the event in the spiritual realms for this century and the Ahriman incarnation.

For the children these polarities can be seen many ways, but we are choosing the Adventures of Don Quijote de la Mancha, and adapted musical of this Spanish Knight, which accompanies Sancho Panza in the conquering of dragons.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

4 bodies

There are many places where the fourfold human being is explained from different angles, I will use the following sketches, which are not a representation of the reality but an artistic rendition of it, to il.lustrate some points of the teachings found in the eleven lectures: "From Jesus to Christ":

Physical Body, which contains the Human Form and also the mineral world. At death the mineral world goes back to the earth, but the Human Form is kept. It is a thin line of Form because after the Fall, it has lost strenght, and thus it does not connect with the etheric body as previously did.
Etheric Body, or life body, which more or less interpenetrates and surpasses the Physical Body. The boundaries were much more loose in the Lemurain times, when the spiritual worlds were thus apprehended naturally. one of the tasks of the initiate is to loosen up the etheric at such points as to enter again into the spiritual realm now consciously.

Astral Body, which after the Fall has become under the influence of Lucifer. It is strongly working with the etheric and at death when something has been worked enough between them, the etheric attaches with the astral body and withdraws from the physical body.

Ego, or I consciousnes, which has been possible only after the Fall and brings the possibility of freedom. It is the different quality with all the other worlds, mineral, vegetal and animal. It is also the connection with conscious spiritualizing of matter, if the relationship with the Christ being is effective.


Spirit Self, the spiritualized astral body. One example of this is when our feelings and passions no longer direct us, when we are purified.

Life Spirit, the spiritualized etheric body. One example of this would be when our temperaments, memories work under our conscious will, capacity of being invisible, control of pulse, etc....


Spirit Man, the spiritualized physical body, which corresponds to the initial Human Form or Phantom, previous to the Fall, and it is available to all humanity because of the deed of Christ, in the Mystery of Golgotha. Examples of that would be the uncorruptibilty of the human body, the victory of life over death.




Thursday, July 21, 2011

Maria Magdalena

As I was reading the following chapters of the book " The Karma of Untruthfulness", some of the old customs and traditions of conceiving have come again to mind.

The usual way of conceiving a child was during the full moon after spring equinox, thus resulting in babies born around Christmas or Winter Solstice. This was in accordance to the atavistic consciousness of these old inhabitants, and yet I have to say that it is also something that is happening nowadays, though maybe not just out of atavistic conditions. Observing the cycles and soul stirrings, one can behold the fact that (at least for the last 8 years) women around us or even ourselves have experienced a stronger force around that time leading up to Easter, to call upon our will the conception of children. Yet it is mistakenly a fact too, that many times the conception does not occur if our will is not completely surrendered to the force, as to remind us constantly of the saying: "Thy will be done, not mine"

I recognize in my etheric body a part that has almost a form of a Moebius string, and when the upper part of the Moebius is working, the external works of the etheric are functioning, the memory, the capacity to organize the external world, housekeeping, and building up externally. Yet when the down part is at work, is the inner works of the etheric, maintaining a child in the womb. Thus it is explained while gravid women have less memory, less capacity of organizing, even mental thoughts, they need more sleep in order to refresh, etc.. and also the fact that just previous delivery, suddenly the etheric is released from the inner works and can put the outside world in order (cleaning the house predelivery syndrome). A note must be said that until three years old, children are also linked with the etheric of the mother, thus creating a surplus of work for the Moebius string which is now linked to the children as an umbilical cord.

All these facts come to mind and serve as further exploration of the spiritual world, just as how to consciously use our etheric forces, for one purpose or another during the course of the year and yielded or not to Divine laws.

Maria Magdalena's festivity is on July 22nd, and I am reminded too of the place the Mother as homemaker has, like a priestess, and especially also as a homeschooler. There is a passage of the book the "Peddlar's Progress" that again stresses the importance of that fact of being a teacher:

"Alcott is not unduly modest in the claims he makes for his newfound profession. the teacher, he repeatedly asserts, is a far more important man in the community than the preacher can never hope to be, for the reason that he works as it were from ground up, and while there is yet time. He is practical, shaping the molds of conduct, whereas the preacher is ordinarily a bookish theorist. The task of the teacher is holier than that of the minister because it deals with souls new-come, unstained, and still "trailing clouds of glory"....Upon the whole, then, a teacher's task is the greatest task to which any man can devote his life"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Homeschooling

This is a question many times forgotten, and we all have probably different reasons or motives for homeschooling our children.


I just have been reading a book that exemplifies in the firsts chapters one of my main answers to the question in the title. I will just quote from the book itself: "Peddlar's Progress"  by Odell Shepard.


"...Then and there they may have decided what they afterwards firmly knew and taught, that a formal schooling, even when good, is not the only means of securing an education. Against the American worship of the school, so stupid in itself and so stultifying in its effects upon real intellectual life, one would be glad to think that they set their young faces, even then, like flint. To Bronson in particular there may have come some vague premonition of his future knowledge that the school, at its best, is only a substitute for the family and the home, that it is a miscrocosmos of society, a place in which one learns by doing, and as Thomas Carlyle was to say: "a collection of books".

.....The family, the home, one's mother-there was the best school of all...Was not his mother a far wiser, kinder, gentler, and in every way better person than the schoolmistress? And what could that mean, unless there are more important things in the world than reading, writing, and exact knowledge of the length of the Zambezi river? His mother knew things too, although one never found them set down in books, and even she seldom tried to say them in words. She said them in the way she acted, in the touch of her hand, in the smile of her eyes; and often she seemed to be saying them when sitting quietly beside him, paring apples or mending a hole in his homespun coat"

All these special figures that surround the life of children when they grow up are of utmost importance. The Mother role is central in the first three years of life, and then slowly it passes the torch to the world by the hand of the Father figure. You could observe that many times discipline problems or quarreling among siblings stems from the lack of loving co-operation between spouses: The more the wife submits her own selfish wishes to the wealth of the family, which is guided by the father's natural authority, the better the children learn. In like manner, the more the husband loves his family by turning down his own selfish desires and yielding to the overall wealth and family's needs, the better the children respond.


It is strange though that in this post about why homeschooling I am announcing an experiment that will start this year: to homeschool out of the home:


Now that my younger child is 4 years and a half, we decided to rent a room near our home, and to make it a place for the main schooling hours of the morning.


The room is shared with two other initiatives, one concerning the care of the dead when passing the threshold, and the other is an anthroposophical group. There was a name hinted up for all three of the groups, Threefold Center, but I rather called it The Upper Room. Besides being a room on the 2nd floor of the building, hence the upper adjective, it simbolizes for me the tasks at hand for this epoch: the two streams that have to come together, and the finding of Christ in the etheric.

Besides the homeschooling hours Monday through Thursday, there is:
- a program for familes and children on Fridays,
-probably some after school care hours for the children that go to school,
-Wednesdays study group
-and a puppetry group.