One of my goals in looking critically at my Advent book is to see if this popular Waldorf poem, attributed to Steiner (although with no proof that I have ever found), that is basically used as the framework for so many Waldorf/Steiner-inspired Advent observations. After reading it in its entirety and really pondering it, I believe it does.
Looking at it as a whole, I love how it speaks to the themes of evolution, of change, of moving towards… something, even if we’re not quiet sure what it is. It speaks of curiosity and thinking and growth. We begin with stones, then plants, then animals, and, finally, humankind.
The first light of Advent is the light of stone–.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
We begin with sedentary, unmoving, unthinking rocks and stones, crystals, seashells, even our own bones that cannot move without thought and intention behind them. Are they beautiful? Yes. But on their own, they don’t do anything. But beauty in itself is a worthwhile thing, and despite the world’s troubles, there are so many beautiful things to be found.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
In the second week of Advent, we are no longer simply reflecting the light, but reaching for it. Plants respond with joy to the elements around them. They grow and bloom. Like the rocks, they make the world beautiful, but their existence is more resilient and less happenstance and being at the mercy of the elements. Plants, unlike rocks, respond. So too can we respond to what is around us, the good and the bad.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.
This one gets a little tricky for me. I do love the progression of the poem. It makes so much sense to me, But the birth… Since my divorce, I have had an uneasy relationship with Christianity and spirituality. Do I still believe in God? In a vague sort of way, yes. But I still couldn’t tell you exactly what it is that I do believe. I appreciate the characters in the Christmas story as archetype, and my children who still live at home do attend their father’s church every Sunday. But, as I joke with friends when they ask what I believe, God and I are on a bit of a break. I am not sure what I will do with this verse. I may rewrite it or I may have the Nativity at the end of the Advent path. I appreciate that revisiting my book will give me the opportunity to examine my own beliefs.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.
Does this rhyme? No. That is because I changed man to humankind. I might fix that because the near rhyme is bothering, but not as much as using non-inclusive language will. I do love this final movement from animals to people. We learn not just because of rewards and consequences, but because of love and understanding. We hope.
All in all, I do believe that using this poem as a framework for Advent still works well for me. There are some things I would like to look at and maybe change, but that’s OK. And you know what? It’s OK for you as well. If it doesn’t work, you can find a different way to structure your Advent. Maybe it’s a hero a day or a story leading up to the birth of Christ, Maybe you will choose four weekly themes, such as the four elements or the four candles representing hope, peace, joy, and love. Perhaps you will have a Jesse tree with symbols of the names of the Jesus. Maybe you will choose acts of kindness as the backbone of your Advent. There is no right or wrong answer here. Your home, your family, your Advent, your choice.
How will you frame your Advent?