November 2011 - Posts
Lucianne Hackbert is a wife, mother, artist, and proud parent of two boys.
Trained as a clinical psychologist, Luci has been developing programs for
children and families since 2007. For more information about her classes and
workshops that integrate creativity, movement, and mindfulness practices
visit www.tendingtothesoul.com and www.campselfdiscovery.com.
Arriving at my
children's school a few minutes before the 1:15 pick-up for first graders is a
perfect time to watch the children at recess. What a delight to see first
graders walking on wood stilts, fourth graders jumping on pogo sticks, and
sixth graders calmly aiming their bows and arrows. Witnessing the children's
simple joy for playing outside, my day brightens. I love the hollow thud of the
kick-ball when it meets with a well-timed foot, and I feel my own exhilaration
watching the full arc of its air-borne journey. What a wonderful feeling of
relief with a secure catch!
children engrossed in play, I also recognize a sense of separateness. I am an
observer, a bystander eager to participate while respectfully acknowledging
that I will not be asked to join the fray. Now that my two sons are in the
grade school, they each have begun to find a unique personal trajectory amongst
their cadre of classmates. Sometimes I get a glimpse of who they are in this
separate existence--the world of school. Standing at a safe distance at this
precious mid point in my day, I take note which children they seek out in play,
how they move on the play yard, and what games hold their attention.
Volunteering at the
school has become a clear way for me to hold on to a sense of connection to my
children while respecting that the space between us is broadening. Simple acts
like sewing aprons for the classroom align me with their daily rhythm. I
am starting to notice that these small gestures of care feed me on a deep
level. I feel my role as a mother being re-defined and expanded to include the
larger community. Spending time in the classroom, I feel camaraderie with other
parents. Just last week I noticed a new beautifully hand crafted wooden rack
holding the children's mugs in the third grade classroom. I picture my son
stopping to consider the wooden rack (its lovely purple color that of royalty!)
and meet the hands of the parent who built it.
Moving toward the
Winter Spiral, I want to clear the inner spaces of my heart, as well as the
hearth, acknowledging that winter is upon us. The expansive growth of summer
has been replaced by a slower and perhaps more contemplative time. Clearing out
clutter in my home, organizing arts and craft supplies, I check to see that we
all have enough warm wool socks and mittens. Like the beautiful mug rack, I
want to put things in place.
I have been thinking
about the idea of spiritual stewardship. This phrase came to me as I was trying
to put words to frame my relationship to our community. Often when I am working
at home, my efforts feel repetitive and isolating. When I gather with other
parents to work at school, or welcome other parents into my home to join forces
on a school project, I feel more useful. With our coordinated efforts we
can get so much done! But there is more to it than commonplace productivity.
Have you ever noticed that when we work as a collective a joyful attitude seems
more accessible? At home, when I face yet another load of laundry sorting
through pockets to remove the sticks and rocks that will clog the drain, I try
to infuse these mundane tasks with an element of reverence. The root for
reverence comes from revere, which is also the derivative for Venus. I remind
myself that Venus is the goddess of love, beauty and natural productivity. Is
it possible that by bringing beauty and intention in alignment with an attitude
of love and care I can connect to something beyond the confines and constraints
of my individual frustrations?
Stewardship is an
ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources that
belong to someone else. For many of us, the ideal of land stewardship is
familiar and we view the natural world as a resource worthy of our
attention. As I look at my home and garden, the school campus, I wonder
whether bringing all of my efforts to bear on these environments can help to
better hold my children, and deepen my experience of community. In the
words of MC Richards, a potter, poet, and Steiner-advocate, can we experience
the school as a place for personal and social renewal?
parents, we can share this task of being spiritual stewards for our children,
our community, and our school. On a recent morning, we park our car at
the church and start walking down the hill. As I wave at friends and the
police officer, my children run ahead. By the time my feet hit the wooden
planks of the small bridge crossing over the creek, I am alone. From atop the
winding stairway, I look out over the campus. I can easily imagine that what I
am seeing in the campus is a huge ship, safely moored in a friendly harbor but
leaning out toward the sea and the next adventure. It needs some
maintenance, some provisions, and a crew for the long-voyage ahead.
Although I am not sure that an eye-patch will look good with my new winter
coat, I know that I am needed as a steward on this ship. I know that over the
coming days and years, these voyages will be longer and longer, as our crew
becomes ever more confident to travel into distant lands and uncharted
territories. We can share this task of preparing for whatever lies ahead. We
need to be tactful as we chart the course for our school and diligent about how
we use our resources. But let's also appreciate the opportunity to celebrate
each trip with an air of appreciation for the beauty and mystery of the
journey. Spiritual stewardship, though unlikely ever uttered on a pirate ship
of yore, is the concept that feels relevant to me, and I hope that these words
inspire you to reflect about your relationship to our community as well.
How do we celebrate the important moments in our lives and
mark the important transitions? I once
taught a girl from a large Jewish family.
Not very big on going to synagogue, the mother of these children worked
hard to bring their faith and culture into their lives and home. For the family Passover celebration, for
instance, they‘d forgo the formal Seder.
Instead, working together, the children had to mix a dough, light a fire
in the backyard and make, bless and eat Matzo in under an hour (the Pharaoh was
coming, you see, and the people were on the move!) My class was lucky enough to be included in
this home grown ritual and it was a joy.
When it was time for the eldest daughter's Bat Mitzvah, the mother took it on with the
same aplomb. The girl was given a year
to prepare herself and asked to complete a number of tasks which included, among
other things, researching and making a family tree, shopping for and cooking
dinner for her brothers and sisters and choosing and completing a community
service project. She grew so much that
year in both skills and confidence that it was clearly right to acknowledge her
on her next birthday with a celebration, a gathering of family and friends to welcome
her into the community of adults.
My only question at the end of this process was "Why don't
all of our young people get to have this?"
Without the recognition of the adult community as they approach
adolescence, many of our young teen-agers flounder. They know and feel that something is changing
in them but may have nothing concrete to judge it by or give it voice. Popular culture provides images of
adolescents as little consumers, defining themselves by what they own. Think of
the things that pass for rites of passage today; a first cell phone or solo
trip to the mall or first car. In response
to this absence young people seem to be trying to initiate themselves. Much of gang behavior, in which we see adolescents egging each other on to acts of
foolhardy courage with drugs, crime and sex without love, can be seen as
attempts to ‘prove' that the member has left childhood behind. Without some meaningful event to mark their
changing consciousness children seem to be becoming teen-agers ever earlier and
real 'grown-ups' late if ever.
Instead this girl had
been asked by the adults who loved her to stretch and grow and define herself, and
then was really seen and recognized for
what she was, no longer just a child but a woman in the making. She was given both new rights AND new responsibilities
to go with her new position. How many of
us had that as young adolescents and how would it have changed our perceptions
of ourselves and the world if we had?
The small touches added to the festivities (which was held in their
home) a lit candle, the sharing of a song, were ancient but also new, acts refreshed
by the laughter and intention of those who performed them. If we do not have a tradition to guide us in
the form that such celebrations of life passages might take, we may have to grow
them ourselves. We can start small,
with the family rituals, special foods, stories and verses that adorn the
little rhythms of the day, week and year.
Then when the big changes come we may have the courage and forethought,
with the help of the larger community, to rise and offer a meaningful and
positive event like this to all our children to help them take the right first
step toward adulthood.
With its crisp
mornings, blustery afternoons and early sunsets, the short days of autumn have
arrived. As the sun recedes several
things rise within us to fill the gap.
We turn to steamy cups of tea and coffee and the company of friends and
family as the outward gaze of summer turns inward. Autumn is a good time for reflection, and
some of the traditional autumn holidays, like Yom Kippur, are times for
introspection. It is also a perfect time
to light our candles and lanterns and celebrate our unique human ability to
bring light to the dark days.
and clever-fingered, we don't have to fade or fall with the leaves. Neither do we have to hoard and hibernate,
waiting for winter to pass. We can chose
instead to gather as a community and celebrate the fruits of the sun left to us
in the harvest, apples and pumpkins, very pictures of the sun that made them
swell so big and round. We can kindle
our deepas, or little lamps, to show God, in the form of Lord Rama, the path
back from exile and into our homes and towns again as people do at Divali. We can bring our loved ones closer with gifts
of bread, flowers and fruit, with photographs and mementos flickering in the
light of votives on an offerenda for los muertos.
We can take
our light and liveliness out into the world too, braving the cold with mittened
hands and rosy cheeks holding lanterns
aloft, a gift of cheer to the wider world as we give coats, clothes and food to
the donation drives of the season. We
can remember the past and look to the future as the menorah glows more brightly
and more splendidly through each of 8 nights.
unquenchable light, the one that shines on the darkest night, the midnight sun,
is the light within us, the spark that we share with all living beings. A journey through the coil of matter to the
bright source within is a path of self discovery. We seldom fail to return from the source
without a gift to help on our way. A
winter spiral of lights can give our children a picture of this inward solace to
take into the coming winter. Lights on a
tree tell a story of love reborn in a cold world.
chose to carry your light into the shortening days or autumn and approaching
solstice, even if it be a candle over harvest fare at dinnertime, know that you
are in good company. If we each bring
light to our own little corner, our world will be radiant!
In the darkest night
The world will be bright
And shine like a star
You and I, I and you, We
will bring our light too
It's hard for us at Family Year to believe that our site has
been around for a full year! New
articles will be popping up soon, but don't forget to take a look at some
inspiring gems from last year....The Big Meal is coming up this month, so Involving your Children in the Kitchen, Eat
Local for Thanksgiving, and The
Family Meal are worth another look, as are Autumn Leaves and The Wisdom
of Walking to get us up and moving afterwards!
Busyness can overtake all our good intentions as the
holidays approach. Refresh your relationship
with gratitude by reading Count Your
Blessings Before Counting Sheep or ground yourself in the moment with some
simple yet satisfying seasonal crafts like Apple
Gnomes and Dipping Leaves in Beeswax.
There's more to come as we circle around the calendar, so
check back regularly or subscribe to our RSS
feed. And thank you for being part of
our family's year!