By Chinyelu Kunz
/ In this article
01. Genuine gratitude cannot be taught as a habit but rather as a virtue
02. How children’s natural sense of wonder fosters a deeper connection to life’s purpose
03. How to cultivate reverence in daily life, and infusing it into daily rhythms
In the context of the Waldorf approach Reverence is a feeling that we consciously cultivate and deeply touches the soul. It’s a mood within the soul that develops through a sense of wonder gratitude and devotion.
Why are Wonder, Gratitude and Devotion important to developing a reverent mood?
When I think about Wonder as an experience that leads to reverence it makes me think of questions that children ask. Questions like where does rain come from? What is snow? Children have lots of questions which they will openly ask about. And as Plato and Aristotle suggested, could it be that they are “philosophizing” and not necessarily needing an answer. It’s natural for children to wonder and ask questions. It’s a worthy experience to wonder about the world and the universe. Wonder brings an experience into the heart – so it’s not just a thinking experience, instead it’s an experience that is deeply felt.
Developing a sense of reverence, through wonder, instills a deeper sense of life’s purpose. Children, in their own childlike innocent way, ask questions about their world – they want to know the “Whys” of life. Perhaps this leads them to asking Why?, Why?. You can take this as an opportunity to sometimes simply reply with “I wonder?”
When gratitude lives deeply in the body and is brought through daily living experiences, as a result of being enveloped in a mood of gratitude, then perhaps this mood can be better understood as a virtue and not as a habit to be taught, because in actuality, we cannot train a child to be grateful – not like we can train social manners. So when your child says “thank you” without being asked, then you know that these words of gratitude were spoken from their heart.
One way of learning to know something is to approach it first of all with loving devotion. There is a longing to care and nurture it.
One way we can experience devotion is through the feelings felt when tending to garden with love and intention, when we water the plants in the garden it’s because we’ve noticed the dryness of the soil and our desire to properly nourish the growing plants pulls us to give care to the tender seedlings. When we admire flowering blossoms, and hear the buzzing of the bees tasting the blossoms’ nectar, this experience can inspire in us to care for the bees. This is the feeling of devotion, an experience that touches the heart. In return, we receive joy and a full heart.
Acts of devotion whether experienced in chaotic moments or moments of peace and calm are acts of love.
When you cultivate reverence it’s like you’re preparing the soil in your garden and as you nourish the soil, and tend to the seedlings everything that grows in your garden will flourish as a result of your care and devotion. Wonder, Devotion, and Gratitude are intricately connected with the experience of Reverence.
Reverence opens up possibilities to experience the wonders of life with deep feelings for what life offers us – like nature’s beauty, how they came to be born, and the extraordinary, and mystical happenings in life.
When you approach each day as being worthy of being honored, the young child learns to revere the activities of the day – especially when held within a consistent rhythm. There are many ways this can happen. It could be saying a blessing together as a family before a meal. Waking up your child in the morning with a poem or song. Lighting a candle at the breakfast table and saying a blessing for the food. Putting your child to bed – saying a prayer or poem can be a reverent moment that lets your child know “All is Well”
When we cultivate reverence in daily life, then a sense of wonder develops as well as respect for the divine in all things. We nurture and nourish reverence as a deep mood in the soul through love and devotion. This quality of reverence grows in our children becoming a way of living that is filled with enthusiasm and a knowing that “my life” is abundant.