By Lissa Romero de Guia
BRAVE and true, I will be
Each good deed sets me free
Each kind word makes me strong
I will fight for the right
I will conquer the wrong
“Mommy, why do I need to ‘fight for the right’?” asked my 7-year-old son Kalinaw.
We had just finished reciting the End of the Day verse his first-grade teacher had assigned to us. “What do you think?” I threw the question back to him. “What do you think would happen if we don’t fight for the right?”
My children are enrolled in Balay Sofia, the only Waldorf school in Baguio. Needless to say, it is not like other schools. The kids don’t have eight to ten subjects to take up all year round. Instead, the year is divided into four- to six-week blocks, and each block has a theme. The theme in August was Forms; in September, Nature Studies; October, Language Arts. Concepts are taught through storytelling, followed by a drawing activity. Other activities that help in the child’s all-round development are flute, handknitting, and painting. Daily outdoor play (whether in sunshine or rain), as well as unstructured indoor play, are greatly encouraged.
Distance learning has been a challenge for a school that discourages the use of gadgets and exposure to media until the age of 12, but compromises have had to be made in order to continue our advocacy for an “education of the heads, hands, and heart” during this period of time that we are not allowed to enter the physical space of the school. Because everyone has varying degrees of connectivity, the teachers create short videos to give the daily lesson and activity, and these videos are downloaded on a weekly basis. The parent or caregiver is tasked to read the assigned story out loud to the child (even if the child can already read).
To make this system work, the teachers are pouring even more of themselves into creating simple yet beautiful videos for their students, while us parents and caregivers make sure we are on hand to give our assistance. I have to admit, it has been a pleasure for me to witness Waldorf education first-hand (although I’m well aware there must be a totally different synergy of energies when a teacher is in the same space as his or her students). I find listening to the main lesson stories and fairy tales healing and reassuring, like a spa treatment for both my brain and my soul. My inner child delights in this innocent use of the imagination.
“Mommy, why do I have to ‘fight for the right’ and ‘conquer the wrong’?”
September ended with Michaelmas, the festival that celebrates the story of how Archangel Michael helped St. George tame the dragon that was terrorizing a kingdom. It is a festival I have come to love, for it brings a higher consciousness awareness to the changing of the season. We may not experience Autumn or Winter in the tropics, but in the Cordilleras, we do feel the temperatures drop as the year comes to an end. The air gets crisper, and as we cozy up around the fireplace, one can’t help but turn inward. The story of St. George and Archangel Michael directs our awareness to the forces of lightness and darkness we strive to keep in balance, both internal and external. This endeavor focuses on the virtues of “love, strength, and courage.”
I ponder for a moment. “What would happen if we didn’t fight for the right? What if ‘the wrong’ were to prevail?”
“Maybe, more bad things would happen?”
I recalled the story they were taking up, of the little green magic man called Satchking Patchkin, and how he helped poor Mother Farthing by giving the lean, mean man who was her landlord his comeuppance.
“Yeah, I hate that landlord!”, cried Kalinaw. I could feel Kalinaw’s sincere indignation, his innate sense of justice disturbed.
No more needed to be said. He got it.
In a world that is still in the grip of fear, it seems more important than ever to be reminded that our own efforts to tame our inner dragons have an impact not only on our personal lives but on our communities as well. As I listen to the teacher’s voice telltale after tale of justice conquering injustice, of goodness conquering meanness, celebrating resourcefulness over the misuse of others, emotions are stirred in me—hope in humanity, faith in our journey, and the love that binds us all. The light in me grows, and I know that despite the darkness of the times we are living through, that light never truly dies.
On November 11, Waldorf schools around the world will celebrate Martinmas. The story of St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar reminds us of the inner light we carry inside us, our own innate goodness. Though we may not hold the usual school walk, you can be sure we will all be singing the lantern song in our homes:
I go outside with my lantern
My lantern goes with me
Above me shines the stars so bright
Down here on earth shine we
In the past, our school would celebrate with a walk at dusk, the schoolchildren singing and giggling as they carried their handmade lanterns before them to light the way. Seeing those lights bobbing up and down always reminded me of the shining souls that we truly are. Walking together in the deepening night, in that sea of tiny lights, I realize: we need not fear the dark. We are not alone.