Winter Spiral 2017 at Sanderling Waldorf School

Deep Mid-Winter drawing near,

Darkness in our Garden here – –

One small flame yet bravely burns

To show a path which ever turns.

Earth, please bear us as we go,

Seeking Light to send a-glow:

Branches green and moss and fern,

Mark our path to trace each turn.

Brother animals, teach us too

To serve with patience as you do.

We walk with candle toward the Light

While Earth awaits with hope so bright:

In the Light which finds new birth

Love may spread o’er all the Earth.

Deep Mid-Winter drawing near – –

May Light arise in our Garden here.

—-Poem by Nancy Foster

Earlier this morning I watched Chloe’s first grade class walk their Winter Spiral, a beloved Waldorf school tradition held as we approach the darkest time of the year.

The Eurythmy room at Sanderling Waldorf School was transformed with a double spiral made from evergreen boughs and interspersed with golden stars, crimson poinsettias, gleaming shells and crystals.

The children quietly enter the darkened room, a single candle burning in the center of the spiral and the sweet song of a lyre playing softly in the background. One at a time the children are invited to enter the spiral, unlit apple candle in hand, where they walk silently and reverently toward the center, going inward into the stillness where the light is. They light their candles, their angelic little faces aglow, and place them along the evergreen spiral as they exit, illuminating the path for their friends who will follow them.

By the end of the walk the darkness of the room is dispelled by soft, golden light and the children leave in quiet confidence, carrying their rekindled lights inside of them out into the dark and chaotic world.

The symbolism of this deeply moving tradition isn’t explained to the children, and it doesn’t need to be because the experience of it lives inside of them in a way that words are too clumsy to express anyway. ❤️

Winter spiral is beautiful and touching and I never leave there with dry eyes. 🕯

Winter Spiral at our Waldorf school 2016

Winter Spiral Photo cred: Embry Rucker

As the days grow shorter and darkness engulfs us, it is time to turn inward and create a little light of our own.  The kids’ Waldorf school has its Advent Spiral today, during which each child carries an apple candle through a winding maze of boughs towards the center where the light is.

They light their own small candles and carry their light forth on their return trip around the spiral, and then they set them down along the path.  While the children travel through the spiral, a harpist plays a soft, angelic tune.  When it is over, everyone exits the room singing Silent Night, softly.

I really love this festival and it’s among my favorite Waldorf traditions.  It really sets the mood for a different sort of holiday season filled with more stillness, reverence, contemplation and beauty, a stark contrast to the usual hustle bustle that we’re all accustomed to this time of year.  I always get emotional watching this, and I walk the spiral myself whenever I get the chance.  There’s just something so special about it.  I know I say this a lot, but I am so grateful my kids get to experience this each December.