“Monday is rice day” a statement familiar to many Waldorf homes, where families attempt to craft and follow rhythmical life. Following a rhythm is not only something that parents of young children discover, often with initial dismay (“Too boring!”) and later with firmness and comfort (“Today is our park day!”). Rhythmical life naturally evolves around animals or farm and gardening activities – rhythmical life is synonymous with engaged life.
Finding your rhythm
Seasonal rhythms lead us through the cycles of inhale (winter) and exhale (summer), stillness (Winter Solstice) and expansion (Summer Solstice), through breathing in of the late fall, and breathing out with excitement, anticipation, tender joy of spring. The dial of the year must go through the incredible stillness of Christmastide, emerging with new energy of resolutions, year planning and quickening of pace that follows return of sun light in the early days of January. Our soul life will often follow, with or without awareness, quite in step with the change of seasons.
Simple watching your garden, the land, the soil, creatures of all kinds is a window into the secrets of the rhythmical nature of life. Out of that observations comes ample opportunities for self-reflection. The golden glow of the aspen leaves might speak about the time of the year when we summon our own golden glow of inner warmth, kindness, love, and humanity – before taking the plunge into the darkness of winter. The tender enthusiasm of spring is time when we allow our thoughts and imaginations to wonder all over the place, pondering changes in our personal “garden”. The need to re-evaluate, add compost and seed new ideas is honored. Expansive mood of the summer makes it impossible to commit, to see clearly, to be very grounded. Summer wishes us to frolic. Grounding of harvest time arrives in mid August.
Witness your own journey through seasons, watch the intricate interweaving of nature and soul life, seek inspiration in the living things that surround you. What is the meaning of Autumn winds, where do they blow? What is the significance of leaves falling to the ground, shedding the joyfulness of summertime, and covering earth with a protective blanket before the cold days of winter? What protection is it offering, of what kind of return does it speak? What is going on your soul at the same time?
Rhythm in the Family Life
In our home life, we strive to find seasonal rhythm that inspires our actions and offers a counterbalance for the hectic demands of modern life.
The photo below shows a wall hanging that illustrates some elements of the week’s engagements to a non-reading 5 year old child. As our child is attempting to orient himself to flow of time, his own wheel of the week helps him to know what is coming when. Our son goes to a kindergarten, and we use this Rhythm of the Week to assist us on the days when he is home, or when we have lost our inner guide to the day and are struggling with “What to do?” to keep peaceful household.
This Child’s Rhythm of the Week took much thinking before I was able to manifest it. First, it was important to me to keep the layout circular, to acknowledge circular nature of time. Our week could not be linear, as you see on printed calendars, there is no logical explanation for that layout. The center of the wall hanging is a little scene from our farm – our own two goats who became so iconic that here they are used to communicate the idea of the microcosm of the home.
Animals and the surroundings are needle felted on a piece of wool felt. Wet felting would also work. The goal is to keep the painting very dreamy and soft, just like the consciousness of a young child.
There is no clear beginning or end of the week, either. There are no words/ letters – that was important as well, not to label. And we have used actual symbolical items to indicate the work of the day: clothes pin, crayon, toy garden rake etc.
Lets start with Monday, and follow the week as we assign colors of the rainbow to each day. (At some point in the process I got confused and messed up my color assignation. So do not use my colors to inform your choices. True color of Monday is Purple, yet my ended up being red. Week days follow the colors of the rainbow.)
Red is for Monday, Rice day in our home. Each day has its own “gesture”, its own planet, which in turn suggests selection of food, choice of activity, and color. Monday is the day of the Moon, its energy is new and young, and watery. Thus children engage in water play, participate in watercolor painting. Rice is very much moon-like in its appearance, and it is a water grain. Monday’s pocket is red, with paint brushes.
Monday is my day for piano time. I get to play music for about 15-20 minutes, after dinner. That is also time when my son cleans up the room, right under and around piano, or leafs through his book. The little piece of music sheet paper reminds him of respect for my special time better than words ever had.
Tuesday for us is Barley day. That translates into barley pancakes, made in the Nourishing Traditions style. Sometimes, I make barley soups on Tuesday. There is grinding of barley grain the day before, on our little Farina mill, operated by child power. We draw with crayons on Tuesday (or do pretty much anything else too). By Wednesday we usually lose our focus, and don’t have much of a designated plan for the day. By Thursday we are back on track, with buckwheat and beets incorporated into meals of the day, and some type of ironing/washing action (thus the clothes pin).
Friday is our Home Day, after four days of Kindergarten we rejoice in cleaning the house, dragging pillows outside to air, washing windows, or floors or something like that. Friday is oatmeal, which is considered the easiest of breakfast cereals to digest and thus is offered on the day of the week when children are exhausted. Saturday is play circle day, when friends come over in the afternoon. Saturday is also Animal Care day, when we muck the shed, give goats their herbs and carrots, do other in-depth animal projects.
Sunday has a church drawn on it, though we are not currently going to church, but there is that gesture of a special day, the gesture of gratitude. I still strive to bake on Sunday, so we have that smell and warmth in the house that speaks about having reached the end of times and beginning of times, with new cycle upon us tomorrow.
And for those who read until the very end, here is the special gift – my Wheel of the Year. This is a very rich subject, and not a very good one to describe online… but this picture will offer you much food for thought. The words on it are mine – and those of my friends, with whom we all crafted that Wheel of the Year one evening.