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.