A Musical Celebration for the Solstice

This year’s Yuletide Revels performance, presented from the Meadowbrook Music Program, is a medieval mystery play celebrating the winter solstice. Renowned Rhode Island music teacher, Joe Smith, has drawn works from sacred and secular traditions that interweave the familiar and beloved with the rare and intriguing. With the collaboration of MWS Strings Director, Jeremy Fortier, Mr Smith has worked with the middle school students to create an evening of music perfect for the season. Bill Ouimette will conduct the Meadowbrook Recorder Ensemble in a medieval mystery play with a spoken narrative telling a tale of the moon pitted in jealous battle against the sun. The haunting Abbot’s Bromley, an ancient pagan piece that venerates the elk while poking fun at convention, will also be presented.

???????????????????????????????The performance takes place on the 245th anniversary of Ludwig von Beethoven’s birth and the Middle School Choir will sing Ode to Joy – Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee in his honor. Choral Director, Susan Bosworth, will also lead the choir in Lux Aeterna with text from the Requiem Mass that celebrates the divine eternal light.

This wonderful evening of music and community is open to all and admission is free. Please join us at the URI Performing Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston on Wednesday, December 16 at 7pm.

 

 

Advent Spiral – A Community Gathering

What is Advent? What is an Advent Spiral?

advent_spiral_mws

We have just entered into the season of Advent.  Traditionally celebrated the four Sundays before the winter solstice, it marks a time of introspection as we all await the return of the sun and lengthening days.  This seasonal remembrance of light takes place in many cultures across the globe.  At our Waldorf school, we mark this season with weekly Advent spiral walks.

Our local community is invited to participate in this weekly moment of reflection. Please park in the visitor lot and follow the candle-lit path into the forest where you can walk the Advent spiral and place your offering along the path. You may bring something from home or pick a natural trinket from the start of the path to add to the spiral. In this way our community comes together co-creating the garden spiral.

Examples of items are:
The first light of Advent honors the mineral world.  Small shells, gems or rocks are appropriate for this week.

The second light of Advent honors the plant world. Acorns, pine cones, a dried flower or holly sprig would be wonderful additions to the path this week.

The third light of Advent honors the animal world. Perhaps you might add a small feather you have found or a piece of beeswax in the shape of a favorite animal this week.

The fourth light of Advent honors the light of man. During this final week we are in the darkest days of our year and we bring the light within ourselves to the spiral. You are invited to carry a candle through the spiral and then leave your candle along the path. In this way, we are leaving our light to illuminate the path for all of us. Candles are provided at the start of the path on this evening.

advent_spiral_dusk_mwsAfter walking the path, families often take a short time to sit together quietly. Participating in our Advent spiral is a lovely way to model a quiet reverence of nature to our little ones. Often the youngest of our visitors take many turns walking the spiral, first holding a parent’s hand and then becoming brave enough to test their independence and walk the path alone.

By marking our seasonal journey out of darkness with the quiet contemplation of Advent, we make space in this hectic time of celebration and busyness to remember our connection to the earth and each other.

Advent Spiral Dates for 2015

The local community is invited to join us in this small act of contemplation that we hold each Sunday of Advent from 4-5 pm.

November 29th (Minerals)
December 6th (Plants)
December 13th (Animals)
December 20th   (Humans)

Advent Spiral Verse

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones that sparkle through seashells, crystals and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of the plants that reach to the sun and in the breeze dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts that swim, crawl or fly, be they great, be they least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of man, in love and in thought, to give and understand.

Martinmas – A Path to our Inner Light

Sarah Wiberg (Meadowbrook Parent Child Teacher) and Nancy St. Vincent (Early Childhood Class Teacher) describe Martinmas and the introspection encouraged through the fall festivals of a Waldorf School. 

inner light, martinmas, lantern walk

Photo Credit: Seth Jacobson Photography

Autumn is a time to reflect on our inner selves

As the leaves change and the world puts on a beautiful autumnal cloak of orange, red, and yellow, we are reminded that winter is coming.  There is much we do to prepare for winter. We may gather firewood, put our gardens to rest or finish canning the bounty of the harvest.  But this time of year, with its shorter days and longer nights, not only prompts us to complete the familiar external preparations, but can also be a time of inner preparation.

Autumn is a time to reflect on our inner selves, to find the inner light that will carry us through this time of darkness. It can be a time to look forward to, with its opportunity to know ourselves in a deeper way.  Waldorf schools mark this season of inner searching with three fall festivals to help guide us on this path of introspection.  In September, we celebrate Michaelmas and St. Michael urges us to battle with courage to face and vanquish our “dragons”.  In early November, we celebrate Martinmas and observe St. Martin’s compassion for others.  In December, St. Nicholas brings the gifts of wisdom, reflection, and review upon the events of the year.  These three figures model strength in the qualities of willing, feeling and thinking.

The festival of Martinmas asks us as striving adults to bring forth our inner light and share it with those around us.

At the festival of Martinmas we hear the story of St. Martin, a Roman soldier who lived in the fourth century.  As St. Martin approached the city gates at Amiens, he came upon a poor beggar who was shivering with cold.  St. Martin, who lived in the utmost of simplicity himself and had nothing to give the beggar, drew his sword and cut his own cloak in two and offered half to the beggar.  The following night, Christ appeared to St. Martin in a dream wearing the half-cloak he had given and said, “Martin has covered me with this garment.”

With St. Martin’s example, Martinmas encourages us to meet each other with a compassionate, giving heart.  It asks us as striving adults to bring forth our inner light and share it with those around us.

The Martinmas lantern walk lights this path. 

At Meadowbrook Waldorf School, we celebrate this festival with the Martinmas Lantern Walk.  We begin the week before with the children in Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades making lanterns in school.  On the night of the Martinmas celebration, the children and parents arrive at school to see a marionette performance of Spindlewood, the story of a girl who has an encounter with Mother Earth as she is preparing for winter.  This story depicts the outer world of earth going to sleep while the inner world is coming alive.  Following the performance, the children and families walk with their class through the forest surrounding the school singing songs of light.  Carrying the lanterns they have made, it is like witnessing many beautiful stars joyfully winding a the path through the woods.  Afterward, the children and families leave in a mood of quiet reverence, carrying their light out into the world.

“I walk with my little lantern, my lantern, myself and I.

Up yonder bright little stars shine, down here were stars to the sky.

The new moon shines, the cat meows…

La bimmel, la bummel, la boom…”

 

 

 

Michaelmas: Contemplating Dragons

michaelmas_dragon

The children have been practicing this week for our Michaelmas celebration.  The pageant is the same every year and each class plays a pivotal role in the story.

There are the littlest First Grade Gnomes and energetic Second Grade Meteors.

michaelmas_gnomes

Third Grade portrays the elements, while the noble Fourth Grade contains the knights and St.  Michael.

michaelmas_tame_dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hardworking Fifth Graders are the farmers and peasants, while the Sixth Grade gives life to the fearsome and fun dragon.

michaelmas_farmers_peasants

Finally, our Middle Schoolers provide the stirring music for the morning.

Michaelmas_pagaent_music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With our senses full of the sights and sounds (and soup) of Michaelmas, it is easy to overlook the deeper meaning this festival holds within a Waldorf school.

Kristina Boving, Meadowbrook Grade 5 Class Teacher and Trustee of the Board, describes the introspective side of this exuberant celebration:

In Waldorf Education, we believe strongly in working with the influences of the natural world, noticing and celebrating the changes in the seasons. Now that fall is upon us, teachers and students are preparing for the festival of Michaelmas, which recognizes the figure of St. Michael. Little noted in modern times, Michael was a powerful figure in days of yore. Better known to us today is Michael’s association with St. George, the patron saint of England, as he fights the dragon.

This powerful image of Michael and his battle against a fearful dragon resonates with the autumn season on many levels. In summer, we are more active, diving into the great outdoors, and losing ourselves in the joy and revelry of long, warm days. Our part of the earth seems to be in a state of dreamy bliss. As fall approaches, and days grow cooler and shorter, nature starts to contract and settle in for a period of dormancy. We are influenced by this change as well. We too are beckoned to a more contemplative mode of being. Our power of thinking can grow clearer and we can become more self-aware, if we take the time to bring our thoughts to consciousness. This is the time to gather our forces to resist falling in too strongly with nature’s cycle of decay and death during the autumn and winter. This is the time to take our outer perceptions and draw them inward to a sustaining, and hope-giving inner experience. This is the time of year known in the Middle Ages as “vita contemplativa” as opposed to summer’s “vita activa”. Michael’s fight for goodness and beauty, and the hope that it brings us, can sustain us through this season.

It takes a strong will to focus on our inner lives, especially during the hustle and bustle of our modern lives. The image of Michael taming the dragon can be a guide for us, helping us re-focus on the essential, giving us courage to overcome fear and despair during the darkening days of autumn.