Our school year is officially over. We take about 8 weeks for summer vacation and begin again around the middle of August. Beginnings and endings are important to note. They bring an awareness to what has come before and to what lies ahead. I wanted to take a moment to pause and acknowledge that we have done our best. There were some truly wonderful and transformative moments during our lessons this year. Then there were entire days that were absolutely abysmal. There were some blocks I wish I could have extended and then extended again. There were others I wish I could do over. And then there were a few things I’m glad I get to simply check off the list. The combination of this doesn’t make for a tidy package, and I think sometimes there is a tendency to prolong something in an effort to make everything square. I am familiar with this impulse, because honestly, there is always something else that could be done and then . . . maybe . . . everything would be right. Lately, however, I have come to see the value of a somewhat contrived, but definitive, ending. And at a certain point, I simply say to myself and to the boys, “We have done enough. The year is over.”
Summer is a big out-breath; one long exhalation. For me, this season is a time of reflection, rejuvenation and replenishment. By officially ending our year, I give myself an energetic permission slip to let go and move on and start fresh. I try really hard to not let anything related to the specific blocks we did last year linger in the corners of my mind. Of course there are concepts that will carry over and areas of weakness that became apparent during the last few months of school. I mentally note these and try to work them into my plans for next year. One thing I know for sure is that the boys have learned a lot this year. But no matter how much they learned, I have learned even more. This is what invigorates and inspires my planning over the summer.
I wanted to close with a translated quotation from Rudolf Steiner. Jean Miller read it to Andrea and I at the end of our planning session a couple of weeks ago. It was a powerful moment and one that crystallizes what I love and admire most about Jean. She has an unbelievable ability to see our work as homeschooling parents as ambitious and vital and holy, yet simple and elemental and daily. Through her voice, she was able to transcend the slight awkwardness of the actual words and impart the bigger vision of Steiner’s intention. I have returned to and reflected on these words in the weeks since Jean read them to us. If I can cling to those moments that reveal a radiant child in front of me, I am able to transcend the artificiality of all beginnings and endings and find rest in an infinite divine presence. There is comfort in this place. I just have to remember it’s there.
Create for yourself a new, indomitable perception of faithfulness. What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly. Let this be your faithfulness:
You will experience moments – fleeting moments – with the other person [your child]. The human being will appear to you then as if filled, irradiated with a spirit archetype.
And then there may be – indeed, will be – other moments, long periods of time when human beings are darkened. But you will learn to say to yourself at such times: “The Spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype. I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it.”
Always struggle for the image that you saw. This struggle is faithfulness. Striving thus for faithfulness, we shall be close to one another, as if endowed with the protective power of angels. –Rudolf Steiner
Click the image to read the prayer with which I began our school year.