Monday, December 9, 2013

A Letter from a Parent

Dear Spindlewood Families, 

What a beautiful and magical evening in the Kindergarten last night.  It's one of my favorite Spindlewood festivals.  I love watching the concentration on each child's face and seeing them so carefully and intentionally walk forward (and backwards!) with their candles.  It must take quite a bit of courage for some of them. 

This is a bit belated, but I feel moved to share.  I was honored to spend two mornings helping Miss Elisa a few weeks ago.  I loved getting to know your children a little more.  I enjoyed experiencing the kindergarten rhythm where I felt nurtured by the flow of the morning.  Usually when I drop Ami off, the morning feels quite short, but those mornings stretched out so wonderfully and indulgently.  It was as if a whole day had happened in 4 hours! 

I feel grateful that a magical place like Spindlewood still exists for the children where there is a sense of timelessness, safe sanctuary, nourishing food, and imaginative indoor/outdoor play.  I love the community that it creates for me. 

I look forward to building on my relationship with each of your children as the year progresses.  And I also look forward to getting to know you all more.  I'd love to find a morning in late January that you could stop by at my house after drop off for a cup of tea/coffee, scones, and your company! 

(Ami's mom) 

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging. 

--John O'Donohue

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Light the candles one by one
Count off the days in rhyme
Every day a task well done
For now it’s Advent time
It is always with much joy that we write to you about the coming season that we will share with the children. Yes, the shops downtown are completely ready for the holiday season, but here in the Kindergarten we possess the luxury of Time. Soon we will feed the last pumpkin to the sheep. Our leaves are raked and our firewood is stacked. Just as the November winds and rains have swept away all signs of early autumn, we are cleaning out and making ready for what is to come. The woods and frog ponds are becoming quiet, and daylight is dwindling. There is an emptiness as the Earth breathes in and expectancy as we approach the darkest time of the year. It is as if the entire natural world is coming to a point of stillness – waiting for the advent of what… and who… is to come.
Throughout history, humankind has waited for the return of the sun and the rebirth of life. There are as many ways to celebrate this as there are individuals. We experience it in several ways with the children. Here is a description of some of the activities and events to come in the kindergarten.
The Moss Garden – Each child will receive a ceramic bowl.During the first week of December, beginning with the sparseness of the empty bowl, we will experience the gifts from the mineral world – sand, shells and crystals. During the second week we find the world of plants, using the moss that we have carefully gathered. The third week brings the animal world. Finally, we come to the human realm, represented by a candle.
For our young children, the center of their lives is their family. Father and Mother to a little child are much more than individual personalities. They are the fullness, love, support and encouragement that surround them. And surely every family who receives a child has a moment of experiencing that they receive a gift from heaven. Somewhere in our consciousness we regard them as a little King or Queen, and of course during infancy they are treated as such.
So it is for this that we build our gardens during the season of Advent. We celebrate the family (not necessarily the historical Holy Family, but a Universal Family). This is what surrounds our children as they become a part of this world. We mark this coming into the world or “incarnating” with the family festival of the Advent Spiral. This will take place at 4:30 pm next Sunday, December 8th at Spindlewood.
Inside the Kindergarten, a spiral of evergreens is built on the floor with a large pillar candle standing on a stump in the center. At the opening of the spiral are set shining red apples with small white candles placed in the center. Here we find the spiral form as symbolic of the universe. Everything – galaxies, growing vines, seashells, our bones, the inner part of our ear, all move or are formed in the dynamic of the spiral. When we wipe a table, sweep the floor or rake leaves, the movements are in the spiral.
The evergreens placed in this form are “everlasting”, eternal. The child takes her apple that is symbolic of one’s own individual karma or life challenges, walks into the spiral, lights her candle from the central pillar, walks out of the spiral and places the apple and lighted candle on the spot that she chooses. The child finds her place in the world. As each child adds her lighted candle to the dark garden it gradually becomes illuminated. This beautiful ceremony is accompanied by singing and the gentle tones of the harp of our neighbor Cheryl Martine.
Of course, no discussion of how the symbolism is interpreted occurs before or after the event. We allow the child to take what he may from the ceremony. We allow him to enter fully, without discussion. For safety sake, please no long dresses; long hair needs to be tied back away from the candle flame. Afterward, the apples and candles will be brought outside and distributed. If there are siblings or friends between the ages of 4 and 9 who would like to carry an apple/candle, please sign their names on the poster in the mudroom, so that we will know how many to prepare.
The feast of St. Nicholas is December 6 – Who knows, perhaps by the following Tuesday he will find his way to our polished boots and shoes?
On Thursday, December 19, families are invited to come in from 8:30 – 9:30am for a Gingerbread Tea Party. According to our tradition, the oldest girl in the kindergarten will dress as Santa Lucia, wearing a crown of light and carrying the gingerbreads, accompanied by the baker boys. 
Wishing you all joy and deep peace,
Miss Susan & Miss Elisa