This week marks the beginning of a book study I am very excited to host on my facebook group Waldorf Town Square. In follow-up to her much loved “Heaven On Earth- A Handbook For Parents of Young Children“, Sharifa Oppenheimer has developed a workbook called “How To Create The Star Of Your Family Culture” . I can’t wait to delve in to the task of building a better culture for my family, to support others as they take up the task as well, and to be encouraged together.
As we look forward to the birth of our fifth child (less than two months away!), I know I need to examine the flow of our day and how we can best prepare for this new little soul’s arrival, and especially how to give our evenings a boost. By the end of the day, everyone seems grumpy in our household lately, and I’d like to change the mood to peaceful and relaxed… babies already tend to have a hard time with those early evening hours- my children have always been their fussiest as babies from dinnertime until they go down for the night. I also want to ensure each of my children and my spouse do not feel neglected or as if their needs have fallen through the cracks when the baby comes.
In considering this word “culture”, I find it so significant that it comes from an agricultural idea of tilling or cultivating land so that it may be used towards a specific end or for a specific crop/harvest. Sharifa posits that our end goal is “to raise children who, as young adults, can freely create their life as they envision it- this is our task.” I wholeheartedly agree- my mantra has long been “we create our own reality”. But *what* reality are we creating? Without mindfulness, without careful cultivation, there will undoubtedly be weeds in this garden we are cultivating- things that drain resources and lower productivity and yield. We all want our time and energy to matter and to create abundance. We all want to thrive. How can I, as a co-shaper of my family culture, help everyone in my family thrive, and help ensure our time together multiplies the meaning of each of our individual lives and fully empowers each of us to fulfill our destiny, our life’s purpose?
In the first chapter, Sharifa offers us a time-tested tool as a starting point for our endeavor. Her heartfulness meditation is a basis for developing the inner resources we will need for our journey- and these inner resources are self-knowledge, self-compassion, and self-regulation. The added benefit of developing these inner resources is that our children, who naturally imitate us as an expression of their oneness with their environment at this point in their development as human beings, will be learning these things from us as we practice them!
It is easy to overlook the importance of the spiritual tasks we accomplish in our families, as they are often overshadowed by the more tangible tasks we can see/hear/smell… but far beyond the clean dishes, the vacuumed rugs, the delicious meals, I hope my family will always have memories of how it feels to be inspired by my strength and dedication to personal growth and rising to meet my challenges- and in the remembering of it, will themselves feel that ability rising within them because they witnessed HOW it was done… remembering a place and time where we felt loved, where we felt purpose, where we played and work together, where our needs were met and we felt the incredible gift of having a full tank so that we in turn could meet needs- these will be more than just memories. These will be treasure, emotional and spiritual treasures that our families can retrieve with instant recall during any difficult times to come, just as well-prepared fields grow strong crops that weather storms.
As I practice the heartfulness meditation, I send out a strong spiritual beacon of resolve to all of us carrying this intention, envisioning us as blacksmiths at the forge fired by our will, where we mine the raw materials from deep within and form them into the tools we need to cultivate our family culture.