Monday, December 19, 2011
When we walked into her classroom, it had been magically transformed, with a large spiral of evergreen boughs in the center of the room. There were small golden stars placed throughout the spiral, and at the center was a candle on a small table. The children were ushered to their seats, and as we listened to live cello music, the children one by one were given a candle nestled within a fresh apple (which made a nice stable candle holder). Each one entered the spiral, walking carefully to the center where they lit their candle. They walked out of the spiral until they found a golden star, placing their candle on the edge of the spiral and taking the star with them. It was truly amazing to see the quietness and reverence that the calm atmosphere brought out in the children. D, usually a cyclone of activity, contentedly snuggled on my shoulder as I held him through most of the ceremony, watching the festivities and very clearly at peace ("blissed out," as B said). One of the preschool parents (the designated photographer) was taking photos, but the rest of the parents were asked not to bring cameras. So, I won't be able to post any photos until the photographer sends them, but I was glad to just be able to experience the event, to be fully present as the children each made their way so carefully through the spiral and the room slowly filled up with light. It was enough to just watch my little girl, sitting straight and tall in her chair looking adorable in her pigtails, and to see her face light up in a big smile when she caught my eye across the room, as D rested his head on my shoulder. Ah, this is the internal picture I took that I hope to always remember.
And I will also remember that when it was her turn, she walked up carefully and lit her candle--but she turned the wrong way, and ended up at the end of the spiral. Unlike the other children, who realized that they needed to turn around, she stepped over the evergreen boughs into the next path of the spiral... which led her right back to the center. And then she did the same thing again--lost in the spiral! I was trying very hard to stifle my (loving, of course) laughter as her teacher helped to guide her back out. She was completely oblivious about the whole thing, and I don't intend to burst her bubble. Oh, my girl. I love her so very much.
This festival was such a wonderful way to celebrate this season, when we welcome the return of the light, and to bring attention to the light inside of each of us which guides us through the dark days of winter. The serenity of the festival, the reverence for the wonder of life that is felt but does not need explanation, the attention to details that contributed to such a rich sensory experience (the spicy smell of pine boughs, the soft candlelight, the lovely music), and the trust that, given the right environment, children are capable of so much more than we often think--these are some of the things I most love about the Waldorf approach to education, and I feel so honored to have been able to take part in this beautiful festival.