Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Advent Wreathe...

 Advent Wreathjpg

My daughter Emmy wrote this little play for her Church youth group last year. It is now a beautiful part of our own advent tradition. Please feel free to share these readings in your own home:)


Introduction: - 

I am the wreath and I am a symbol of advent. Advent is the time of preparation before Christmas day. I represent God himself, his eternity, love and endless mercy which have no beginning or end.
I express the hope that people have in God; the hope of newness, renewal and eternal life.
Cedar branches can be woven into me, they symbolise healing and strength. Holly berries are placed on me to represent sacrificial love and the blood of Christ which was shed on the cross. Holly leaves are also placed on me to signify the crown of thorns that was put on the head of Jesus at his crucifixion. Pinecones are put on me to symbolise life and resurrection. Laurel can be woven through me and this represents victory over persecution, suffering and death.
Finally, I hold the four outer candles. They represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of advent, which, in turn, symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
There are three purple candles and one pink. The three purple candles are used for the first, second and third weeks of advent, they symbolise: Hope, peace and love. The pink candle is used for the fourth week of advent and symbolises joy.
I also encircle the white candle, and that represents the light that our Lord Jesus brought into the world on Christmas day.

First Candle:-

I am the first candle. I am hope. Do you want to know why I am the most important candle? Just listen to my story.
Once, long ago in the vast stillness of a desert night three wise kings of the east noticed something shine like a diamond from the coal black sky.  It was a star; a star never charted nor gazed upon before. In that shimmering silence of the desert it shone, brighter than any star had ever done before or since.
They wondered as all men are bound to, whether they should leave their families, their work and their home to take this trip of a lifetime. Follow the call of the prophets who had spoken in ancient tongues about this sign.
Without knowing where they would end up, they mounted their camels with the barest provisions and stepped out into the night. Yes, this star had kindled something within their hearts too.
It was hope.  
And although the journey was long, the star lit their path.
When they found the child, these three wise and learned Kings took off their crowns and bowed. Then they laid down their gifts at his little feet.
It is hope that leads us through the night to the stable. Hope that finds the Christ child. I am hope. I am the most important.
Without me you can’t even begin your journey.

Second Candle:-

I am Peace. I am the most special part of the  Christmas wreathe and I’m sure you’ll agree once you’ve heard my story.
Once long ago some shepherds were watching their flocks through the night.  In those days wolves prowled and lambs could easily wander off so they needed to be carefully watched both day and night. This night was just as any other, no different. The younger shepherd boys played with the little lambs and the men told old, worn but favourite stories to pass the long night. Suddenly they could hear a rustling in the distant brush. They all fell silent. The boys held their lambs tight in fear and the men reached for their staffs.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, an unknown figure drew close to their little group. The figure was surrounded by a gentle, golden light.
At first the younger boys huddled together in fear. Even the men covered their faces with their hands. Then the angel spoke.
And suddenly all their fear fell away like a heavy coat of armour. 
All that was left on that ragged hill was peace.
I am peace.
Peace is the gift Jesus brings. It is a gift unlike anything the world can give.
 This is why I am the most special candle of all. 

Third Candle:-

I am joy and I am the most wonderful candle of all. Please stay a while and share in my happiness.
I am the carol singing of Christmas Eve and peal of the bells on Christmas morning.
I am the feeling the three Kings felt when they reached that simple dwelling of the Holy Family.
I am the feeling the shepherds felt when they knew that out of all the great men of the world, the angel had come to bring his message to them, the poor and lowly first!
I am the party to prepare for and enjoy. I am God’s smile upon His people. I am the blessing a Father gives his child.
 I am joy.
This is why I am the most wonderful thing about Christmas.

Forth Candle:-

I am love and that is what Christmas is all about. I am the reason for the season. I am also the # 1 gift of the season.
 I am swaddled tight and good within every human heart. 
All you’ve got to do is un-wrap me!
I am the bringing together. I make us all a family; Rich and poor, simple and wise, strangers and friends, heaven and earth.
I am Love.
And this is why I am all that matters most.

Last Candle:-

I am the Christ candle, the white candle, the light of the world.
I am the last candle to be lit.
 All the other candles were simply preparing for this moment; the moment when hope, peace, joy and love were born into the world through the first breath of a newborn baby.
I am pure white like light.
Long ago in the musty depths of a stable filled with animals and hay a young girl wrapped her first born child in simple, white swaddling bands. What must she have been thinking as she gazed into his eyes? As her heart swelled and brimmed with love. What were her first words to him?
Did she see in his little face the life that was to come?  Did she wonder at the dark and distant places his light was born to shine in? 
I am the last candle, the Christ candle the light of the world.
This is why I am the most honoured candle of all.


Dear candles! All of us signify important stages in the journey of advent.
God is eternal like the circle and each one of you is a part of that circle.
Without even one of you that circle would not be whole, would not be holy.
Look out beyond yourselves!
Friends and family have gathered around this circle that we have made. Hand in hand they are singing and praying and spreading joy outwards.
Yes! Our message is rippling in ever increasing circles, widening, embracing, enveloping, illuminating more and more of the darkness.
Replacing despair with hope, fear with peace, and hatred with love until the light of Christ shines in each one of us!

Love this depiction of the Blessed Mother.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Homemade lip balms and a new doll

We have been busy bees making and creating lately .
Matilda is doing an Art Award which is a GCSE equivalent  so she has been inspiring us all with her all round craftiness. I don't need much encouragement, I always get the crafty bug this time of year. I love sitting quietly in the cosy evenings dreaming up ideas for christmas or thinking of ways to make the corners of our home beautiful.

We make these lip balms every year about this time. They are fun to make and practical too. One batch lasts us through winter. With six young women in one household that's pretty impressive.

I love the natural beeswax lip balms that you can buy but they are quite expensive. This recipe is easy and frugal.

This doll was quite a surprise. I haven't made a doll in about a year.
The other week I felt itchy fingers to sew one again. So I got out my sketching pencils and began to work on a pattern, a willowy, elfin pattern.
I had no vision for the doll before I began which is quite strange for me. I didn't even know if she would be a boy or a girl, rather she came to being bit by bit.
By the time she was done I felt like I'd known her for ages. There is something familiar about her don't you think? I guess she just took a year to brew like a strong cup of tea in the depths of my imagination. I really loved making her. I hope to make some more dolls again soon when I get the time.

She is now in my shop if you would like to take a look and read a little more about her.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Minimalism and Waldorf - the energy of stuff and the materialistic spirit.


I was looking through this beautiful book today, trying to think of some ideas for advent and Christmas and was struck by how simple things can be and yet how very complicated we tend to make them. So many of the things in this book can be made from plain, everyday materials yet more and more, there is this growing culture of material perfectionism which gives the impression that we need to have all the bells and whistles to follow Waldorf or even homeschool in any meaningful way.

When my children were very small, we didn't have a lot of money. The waldorf philosophy really appealed to me back then because it meant that I could make or create, either with my children or on my own simple, beautiful handmade toys, games and decorations for our home.

Yet, it seems that industry can build up around any philosophy, even one that is as inherently non materialistic such as Waldorf.
I began my Waldorf shop after making toys and decorations for my own small children. Over the years I have been advised to scale up my production many times by well meaning friends. This would undoubtedly mean patenting designs, building a brand and working with factory outlets. I've never considered this option because it undermines the reason I created the shop in the first place.

The root of the root (the reason why) is the most important part of anything we do because it will become integral to whatever grows from it. The catechism states that the end can never justify the means. Value never really lies in product, only process.
We all have a tree of life (our soul) and we have to feed those roots with mindful choices and careful footfalls. The intention behind what I do is what matters most to me because it feeds the most important thing of all.

Last week, Matilda hand spun some yarn which she is now knitting into a hat. The yarn is slightly uneven and their are a couple of holes in her stockinette, yet this is what gives the fabric it's beauty.
I notice the magic of the different shades of green as they intermingle in the strands of yarn. I notice them especially because this hat is not next to another half dozen hats in her closet or carefully contrived upon a shop shelf. There is no contrast or comparison, no judgement in my mind when I look at it, no questions asking noisily, which one is better? Which one is most fashionable?

We have so many lens's to look through when viewing something. First our own eyes, then the eyes of others through a myriad of different channels; the world wide web,  the fashion industry, other people's opinions, other people's standards of beauty and style, the list is endless. Sometimes its easy to lose the own unique vision rooted in our own soul, even though this is our one real gift.
Sometimes I just need to get away into the quietude  and refresh my inner page.

I often  imagine how things would have been in centuries past when pigments were rare and embellishment in handiwork considered a luxury. How the symbolism of each pattern would have struck the vision and how bright the colours would have seemed. Now we have a thousand different options of colour, design and pattern. Everything is embellished, our curtains, draperies, duvets and cushion covers. We don't see the individual stitches or imagine the vision of the hand that made them because they are mass produced by poor factory workers and designed with the market in mind rather than the deliberate, invested, inspired vision of an artist.

Everything we own has an energy interwoven into it.
I am careful when I create. Creation, after all,  is a holy space. What we create will infuse its energy into the lives of those that receive our creation into their homes.
I often spend much time in thought, meditation and process before beginning a project.
Each project, even a piece of writing is like a birth; it requires gestation before the labour can begin.

One of the questions I consider is whether I am creating simply to sell, approaching my work from the perspective of the market or whether I am creating something from the deep well spring within me; the part of me that wants to add value and beauty to the world not just more stuff in exchange for money. I do realize that in doing this I'm in a place of great privilege. The need to earn a wage is real and pressing and for many this over rules any other consideration. I don't condemn that at all and I also don't have the answer for it except that perhaps, as consumers, we can be mindful of where we shop, why we shop and what the wider implications of our privilege and choice has on both those who produce our goods and the natural environment.

Materialism has a spiritual energy to it and we can channel that energy and make it stronger or we can redirect it into creativity, gratitude and contentment in the abundance of what we already have, even if that's nothing more complicated than the warming smell of fresh baked bread in the oven.
Our children are watching what we attribute value to and they will attribute value to the same things.

This blog post was very much inspired by this vlog by the you tube channel living tree. I encourage you to visit her channel. Her reflections touch on some important subjects.