This past December my son’s teacher led his class into a dark Eurythmy room and sat the parents around an outer circle. Our children were welcomed to sit closer to the arrangement in the middle of the room. Their little round faces sparkled with wonder reflecting the golden light from a grouping of snow colored candlesticks. One by one, holding hands with their teacher, they were given a candlestick and guided towards a green spiral of fir branches. A guitarist began stroking strings, echoing their gentle steps through the darkness. I remember my son glancing up towards me, his face in subtle awe. My heart was overflowing with pride as I saw a flash of all the leaps and moments that will merge together to become his full life. When he reached the center of the spiral, he lit his candlestick and retreated around the labyrinth, this time with his own clear sense of pride.
I cannot think of something more alluring than a child experiencing beauty with all twelve senses, within a single instant. The experience of watching him complete his very first spiral walk was the type of moment that brought reverence, patience, and wonder to everyone in the room. When I go back to this enchanting memory, I am reminded that beauty inspires us to envision a life full of potential, and also reminds us to become present to all the things that we hold dear.
I’m so grateful that our school community sparked this pathway towards vitality for my three-year old son and all of his precious peers. It seems to me that beauty often gets overlooked. It has become harder to escape the oversaturation of images around us and I’ve noticed my own desensitization and occasional disregard for beautiful things, because it has become too easy to take them for granted.
In both becoming a mother and a part of the Waldorf community, I have been led to reflect on how I can experience beauty in all the ways that fosters a healthy mind~ a mind that can self-express, imagine, create, love, and feel gratitude. Beauty can be a vehicle to bring those values to our children, and I see it as three-fold.
Beauty grabs our attention. It gives us a reason to pause.
When we see something beautiful, our soul stops and starts becoming aware to the nature of that beauty. We notice its captivating qualities and we get sparks or reminders of something else that we love or desire. We become mindful of where we feel that in our bodies and we may even create subconscious intentions to somehow get more of it~ because it feels good!
That urge for more may fill us with hope or allow us to feel grateful to have even witnessed it in the first place. Beauty can ground our children and also propel them forward.
Beauty ignites our senses and brings us both into reality and fantasy.
Beauty is a tool. It helps us accept and understand what is real and also creates a spaciousness to dream. For children, we want to create experiences that flex the senses and it is often the mystery that surrounds beauty that keeps our senses heightened.
It could be a magical table scape and a candle blessing that reminds us and our young ones that we are a real community, that holds each other or it could be a reverent tale told with silks and puppets that sends the imagination on an epic journey. It is the beauty found in soulful rituals such as these that enables the body’s ability to hold and bridge our inner and outer worlds.
Beauty is a way we can communicate with our children, with and without words.
In addition to fostering the ever-growing senses in our children, our work as their caregivers is to model a path towards health and happiness. By giving them the expressions to articulate the textures of our universe, we are giving them a vision of all the things that are and could be.
Through beauty and its unique language, we have the opportunity to offer meaning to children. We want everything for our babies, and the most important hope we can hold for them is that they will grow to treasure and embody the things that nourish and inspire them.
Cultivating beauty in our children’s lives is simple. Begin by noticing in them, what they are drawn to. Ask them what is beautiful, share with them in the moments that beauty stands out to you. Invite them to create, invite them to become, and invite them to love.