“True devotion, in whatever form it is experienced by the soul,whether through prayer or otherwise, can never lead anyone astray. The best way of learning to know something is to approach it first of all with love and devotion. A healthy education will consider especially how strength can be given to the development of the soul through the devotional impulse. To a child the world is largely unknown: if we are to guide him towards knowledge and sound judgment of it, the best way is to awaken in him a feeling of reverence towards it; and we can be sure that by so doing we shall lead him to fullness of experience in any walk of life.”
We live in a world of plenty. A world that is fast-paced with an abundance of necessities and gifts, however with a lack of time or peace. Many have said that our current, upside-down pandemic world is a gift of time, but in truth, those extra hours for peace and family ties are filled with new noise, a noise that brings an echo of anxiety and fear. We fill our older children’s extra time with a courageous “pursuit of knowledge” and fill their day with activities in the hopes that their education won’t be entirely derailed. Their time can be filled with an abundance of toys and screen time as parents work from home, attempting to focus on a virtual world, while protecting their physical world with a lack of presence. This is if they’re gifted with their current employment, and not on a pursuit of a new occupation, combined with the stress of how to uphold the shelter to which they’re currently confined. And behind it all is a concern for health, the well-being of self and loved ones.
How do we nurture our children and help them find peace and connection amidst all of the noise in our current environment? Reverence is a gift we can still provide them with during the current normal, and allow them to carry on when we return to our previous normal with a new perspective and some minor to major tweaks.
What is Reverence?
“When we revere something or someone we want to take care of it, nurture it, and help it grow.” (Donchak, 2018)
To me, reverence is a breath and a way of connecting to our inner self, and it allows us to connect more powerfully to our outerworld, as well. It’s taking a moment to be present and to listen. The way we truly listen to each other is by hearing the other, not while listening to think of our response, or to problem-solve, but to truly hear what one is saying and connecting.
I recently reconnected with a friend that spent 10 days on a yoga retreat. She was there with several other individuals, and during that time, no one was permitted to speak to each other. They participated in all of their daily activities in silence, including meal time. There was no social time, even though they were surrounded by people enduring a shared experience for the duration of the time together. For me, THIS WOULD BE TORTURE! She came from it with a very strong power to observe her world without reacting and being able to detach her emotions from her surroundings. She told me that after she was home, she was walking to the store and saw a child fall down at the park. She observed the child from a distance, and noticed the child without having her own heart skip a beat or feel the need to rush to the child to help her up. The child was not injured, but just encountering the world with her growing body and challenging her limitations in a growing way. My friend had spent so much time in inner-reflection, she was able to hold this inner-reverence through the daily noise and observe her surroundings from a different place.
This extreme example shows how connecting to ourselves and our world can allow us to internalize our world and carry it with us without creating an outward reactionary response. When we add love to this inner and outward connection, we add reverence. We can hold our world in reverence and love to strengthen our connection to our soul or inner self, to allow our light to shine for others, as well as allow ourselves to receive the light of our world.
Ways to Practice Reverence
“Inner experience is the only key to the beauties of the outer world.”
Reverence is such an intangible entity, how can we learn to include it in our lives, as well as lead our children to do the same?
We meet the world with reverence with physical examples of bended knees, folded hands, closed eyes, open arms. We say a blessing together before a meal. We have a moment of silence in remembrance of a loved one who has passed. We hold our breath in an attempt to keep the sheen in our eyes from rolling down our cheeks. It’s a natural part of our being that already exists and is shared world wide, with different and similar expressions. We can build on this and strengthen our innerself’s fortitude, the same way we strengthen our physical body with nourishing food and exercise, and our mind with knowledge.
My favorite way to find reverence is in nature. We can listen to nature, grounding our feet on the earth and taking a moment with eyes closed before we embark to explore its glory. My own impression of a sandy beach is the same as no one else's. The way one revels in a sunrise’s beauty is truly unique and individual to that person and it makes up part of who they are and it allows them to have a connection with the earth as the sun pours it’s glory over the land, removing the veil of darkness that it’s absence previously casted. We can gather together before a meal and pause to enter into each other's company fully present and with hearts open. With daily tasks, practicing mindfulness helps tie the connection of the head, heart, and hands.
One can water a garden because it’s what needs to be done. One can also water a garden with love and intention, noticing the dryness of the soil and attempting to provide an adequate amount of water to properly nourish the plants, admiring the buds that promise to bloom, hearing the buzz of the honey bee tasting the blossoms’ nectar, and sharing the pollen with the other flowers to help the plant ensure its survival. Adding the reverence to the gardening provides the plants with a bounty of love and exceptional care, and in return, the gardener receives bliss and joy from the process, beyond the bountiful harvest.
Our words are nothing compared to our actions, and our children model what we share. By continuing to work on ourselves, we become a beacon of light to them, and are able to more fully connect with them and teach them with love. Within these days cloaked with insecurities, find a moment to look inward and take a breath, and to share love with those around you. Remind yourself that you are providing a light for others. Clean clothes, full tummies, and warm beds are all a blessing that you have helped provide. The frustration of creating, maintaining, and recreating boundaries is a loving quest that the harvest will not be reaped for years or even decades. Remember daily that you are loved and you are providing love and let it shine in all you do. Your little ones are watching, and they are learning how to take a breath and find love in the chaotic simplicity, as well.
“Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, and send them forth in freedom.”
Simpson, Rosie, JOURNAL for Waldorf Education. Nov. 2012, Creating a Culture of Wonder, Reverence, and Devotion. https://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/14.2_dec201 2simpson.pdf
Donchak, Kathy, Steinerbooks. Oct. 2018 Reverence Not Testing the Waldorf Way.
Steiner, R, Oct. 1909. Lecture 4: The Mission of Reverence. https://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0058/19091028a01.html