Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inspirational learning spaces

Have I mentioned that 2011 is shaping up to be a year of growth and wonder?
Yes, my boy is growing before my eyes...18 months now.
I am growing, too.
Exponentially; in ways I never thought imaginable.
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We were somehow led to a beautiful church earlier this year.
A place of warmth and wonder.
Acceptance.
As we continue to grow through the welcoming spirit of this very special parish,
I am met with such fantastic moments of inspiration and awe...again and again.
We recently started attending a parent/child gathering at Trinity Church called "Garden Gate."
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This place isn't your typical Sunday school environment. (thankfully, in my opinion!)
Hands-on learning...
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Beauty everywhere..
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Quality art supplies and meaningful crafts..
(such as a candlemas garden..)
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A real reverence for quiet wonder and personal experience..

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For a young mind trying to understand something as mysterious as God, I feel that this is integral.
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The memories of my short lived Sunday/Bible school experiences include strict teachers, lots of memorization which you were rewarded and recognized for, and a very frightening and realistic video of the crucifixion. (lightening storm, claps of thunder, and blood included.) Also, a teacher I didn't know pulling me aside, giving me a bible, and asking me to "let Jesus into my heart." I was nervous, and replied, "ok." We prayed (for my guinea pig...I couldn't think of anything else), she wrote my name and date in the bible and that was that. My grandmother has reminded me of this on several occasions, although it was nothing meaningful to me. Not only that, but I had no clue what was going on.

How lucky the children of this parish are to have such a warm and creative environment to grow spiritually. The curriculum used for this Sunday school is called Godly Play. From what I understand, it is a Montessori approach which "teaches children the art of using Christian language - parable, sacred story, silence and liturgical action - helping them become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives."
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The wonderful woman (and mom to 4) who designed these learning spaces is incredibly creative and so very respectful of child development and the senses....and no shock to any of you readers, she is a former assistant in a Waldorf classroom.

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*books in the nursery room

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How different would my experience have been if I were a former student of a Sunday school (and parish!) such as this? To a student, environment and energy is everything.
I consider myself a student of....everything.
constantly trying to find inspirational environments..
positive and progressive energy..
I now feel and trust that God will place me where I need to be..where I should be...
Here I am.

All photos were captured at Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem, PA.

18 comments:

  1. I'm so happy that you've found a safe and sacred place to grow your spirit! It looks lovely and nurturing...

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  2. Such a beautiful place! I'm happy for you that you found a nice environment and community for your children! I wouldn't mind going to those playgroup (even if I have different beliefs).

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  3. This is such a beautiful place! It is so great to find an environment and a community like that. I wish I lived near there, I would love to bring my children there.

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  4. Finding such a beautiful space is such a gift. Thank you for sharing a truly sacred environment.

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  5. I think a church like that would bring me back to the fold for sure. What a beautiful, nurturing, loving space. How blessed you must feel there!
    xo maureen

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  6. Rebecca,
    Would you mind emailing me personally if you have some time? We have also "found" a church which is Episcopalian. The children's minister recently left and there is chance to restructure Godly Play a bit. I would love learn more about the program at your church.

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  7. ^^ Hi christine, I would love to chat with you and put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions about godly play much better than I can! However, I can;t seem to find your contact info on your profile!
    here is my address: bendingbirch@gmail.com

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  8. What a wonderful parish! Wow! That space is so special. You all are very lucky to have found such a warm and progressive parish! Awesome!

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  9. SOunds like a lovely program. How blessed you have been to find a parish like that.

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  10. I loved this post and I loved your original post on this church too:) Remember no church (or school) is perfect, but it's still so important to go (in my opinion). Rudolf Steiner was actually a Christian, but always remember that God blessed you with a brain and you are born to use it. I think you will always have questions - the best teachers always do! Have you ever had an archetype done? I just had mine done, I would suggest to you, that like me, you are a writer, a seeker, a priestess and many other things that I also am. It is an amazing lesson is self discovery; I did it as I was so dissatisfied with the direction of my life,and wanted to understand what would truly satisfy me, but I know other people who have been incredibly comforted by finding out, and embracing, who they really are. It has been amazing - very confronting, but amazing! If you are interested, the guy I saw trained in the States I think, so I could find out more... Let me know! Janexx

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  11. I, too, LOVE this post! I am fully jealous. That looks like perfection.

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  12. It's really too bad that some people's idea of religion is so - anal retentive. I believe that the Kingdom of God is an orderly way of being, but not an empty, grade-able, stuff, you're-in-danger-of-hell place at all. There is right and wrong, I believe, but it's - how do I explain this? Like, stepping out in front of a car is wrong. Trying to live a lie is wrong. Eating the right things for your body is right. Not keeping bitterness or resentment in your heart is right. I believe that God is the best father ever. That he WANTS us to be happy, healthy, free, beautiful, loving, connected, curious, searching, delighted, without harm in our hearts, healthy, productive , determined, rejoicing and true in our words and our actions - and that is true Christianity. What would be the point of having Christ sacrifice for us if not to save us from that suffering?

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  13. How lovely you have found a place of worship that you love. All those activities look like a lot of fun!

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  14. I love our Sunday School program, but you post made me want to move there! The space you described looks wonderful. And to "K," you have such an interesting way of describing our faith. Thank you for putting new words to an ancient concept. Very cool.

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  15. Oh this is a beautiful space! And how wonderful that you've found a Waldorf friendly religious educator!
    Is the educational program similar tothe Catechisis of the Good Shepherd? That is a Montessori program used by many Catholics/Christians to teach faith.

    I wish there was something like this in my area. I am still searching for the right church home.

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  16. Hi Rebecca, Thank you for these breathtaking pictures and your encouraging words on my blog! When I have a real Godly Play room, I will use them as a resource. I am deeply sorry that your first spiritual experiences as a child were a hindrance to your journey with God. I have seen many times how God gives us back the years that we have lost, and you are right, He has planted you in the place where you can grow. I wish you lots of sunshine and the Father's smile!

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