Light in the Darkness
At a time of year when the moon has yet to go to bed when we leave for school, and begins to rise as we return home, the scarcity of light makes it that much more precious. Across cultures, celebrations of light converge at this time of year: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Advent, and Diwali, all connected by the lighting of a candle and the significance of that light.
In Waldorf schools around the world, we celebrate with a walking meditation called the Spiral of Light. A spiral path is laid out with evergreen boughs, with a lighted candle at the center. One by one, as quiet music plays, each child takes their turn walking the spiral slowly and steadily inward toward the candle. With care, they light their own candle from the center flame and slowly turn to walk the spiral out. On their way, they find the perfect spot to set their candle carefully among the boughs, and finish their walk back to their family. As more and more children take their turn, the spiral begins to glow from the light of a dozen candles or more.
Rife with symbolism, the spiral shows us how each person’s flame creates a light-filled community. It is also an opportunity for children to practice a reverent quiet – carrying a lighted candle necessitates caution! It also shows children that we implicitly trust them with the responsibility of their own flame, and they all rise to the occasion, walking with the weight and honor of that responsibility almost tangible. And finally, we see that the darkness can be dispelled by the light, especially with the contribution of us all. From the darkest days of winter, we see that the sun will once again shine with the glow of a multitude of candles.
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