The world has problems; LOTS of them. But as long as there are people like my friend Nancy, who devote their lives and love to one of the most important and practical callings on the planet, education of our young, I have hope for the future.
Let me give you a picture, in her own words, of what I mean, as an example of how Waldorf education tries to meet the challenging tasks of our time. This is but a tiny picture of what is possible–today– for education:
My class went to our auditorium today and entered in the dark. The room was covered in pine boughs in the shape of a spiral path. In the center of the path was one large glowing candle that sat upon a tree trunk covered by a blue cloth with gold stars on it. It smelled like a pine forest. The students entered in silence and proceeded to a semi-circular row of chairs to sit down. Two women, playing penny whistle, violin, and cello began playing various musical selections.
The first child approached me. I was standing by a table filled with red apples, each holding a slim candle in a hole carved into it. Then, one by one, each child took the spiral walk into the center where the light glowed. Lighting their own small candle from that big central light, they each turned and began walking back out from the center. At some place of their own choosing along the path, they each picked a spot to place their little light.
When the last child had gone, I took my candle filled apple and walked the path among the little lights, to the center. After lighting my own candle, I found a place along the way to place my own light among the others. It was an extraordinary experience for us all. The metaphors were flooding my mind as I watched each of these students proceed on this path. When they were little, their kindergarten teacher or parent held their hand on the way. Now, they seemed to have grown so tall, only third graders, yet I marveled at how they had gotten so big.
As I looked at them, a veil was drawn back for me and I could see much more than I could usually see. Everything was revealed to me in a moment. It seemed to me, as they walked, that I could sense them as younger children, as who they were now, and even who they were going to one day become. In the darkness, I really felt I could see their future before my physical eyes.
When my turn came, I realized that in the last two years of first and second grade, I always had walked the advent spiral first – before they did – so that they could see how to do it again. This time, they walked confidently alone without my example. This time, I followed their example. As I passed by each one of the lights on my way into the middle, I felt as if I were floating along in the starry heavens, each star one of these students of mine that I hold so dear. Each star lighting my way into the center. I was so humbled to place my small light, no bigger or smaller than the others, down on the path to join in lighting the room. I could also feel how profound it was for the students to see their teacher walk this inward path.
With each eye intently and silently upon me, I felt the connection, the gravity, the grace, the sacredness of the responsibility I carry on their behalf, but also I felt, “I am the so-called teacher this time, but I am really only one of you. You, who have been my teachers, who will be my teachers in the future.” What a privilege to live in such light. Blessings on us all.