Sunday, July 30, 2017

Program for Autumn 2017

Program for Vancouver

Regularly Scheduled Services
The Act of Consecration of Man:
Every Sunday at 10:30

Every Thursday at 10:00, beginning October 5th
(except October 19th)

Visit of Rev. Gisela Wielki August 21st - September 7th 
August 27th (after a potluck lunch) talk by Gisela Wielki: 
“A Major Chord in the Music of Life”

September 29th, Michaelmas Close of Day Service with address at 7:00 pm

Michaelmas talk given by Werner Grimm October 1st (following a potluck lunch): 
“The Significance of the Three, or: Parzival on the Path to Himself”

November 5th potluck lunch 12:15 Talk given by Susan Locey: “Living in Apocalyptic Times”

November 26th – potluck lunch 12:15 Talk by Susan Locey: “The Journey of the Soul towards Death”

Studies in the Gospels: 7:30 pm at the manse “Mark and the fire of courage” Tuesdays: October 24th, November 7th & 21st

Monday, March 20, 2017

A World Initiative

A World Initiative
            An early morning intuition after a deep sleep began for me with a very difficult realization: I was at fault. What had I done? The news once again presented me with a frightening picture: A young man with a gun in his hand had cold-bloodily shot another human being. This news was accompanied by a desperate feeling that connected itself to our increasing technology and its effect on youths and on children.
            It is a fact that such a deed is only possible if the shooter has a deep seated feeling of anger, lack of reasoning and tries to get even, by applying his will without any feeling whatsoever for his victim’s future and his own. This could have been avoided by a harmonious upbringing, in peace and quiet. Love and caring for babies, young and older children is lacking in many homes today. It is not realised that this lack shows up in later years. Is it due to technology, to a change in values or to time available among family members? Children of all ages begin to play with technical devices in schools, indeed, already in kindergartens, even in cribs. Ever new ideas appear on the market to fascinate also the youngest. In many families, both parents are required to work full time so that their children are becoming more and more dependent on their cell phones, i-pads etc. It is rare that imaginative story books are read to or by the children. All this turns out to be a restricted way of upbringing. As a result, in many cases thinking is over-activated and trained in the growing child. ***
            It is important to remember that the human I or ego always expresses itself through thinking, feeling and willing. Only a harmonious interaction between these three soul faculties helps the growing person when he or she becomes a young adult. It is necessary that all three soul faculties be developed evenly because they are expected to play their part in later life. As our time has evolved into a technological age, only thinking is required for many school subjects. Google becomes our guide in research projects rather than classroom teaching. A living relationship from human to human has been exchanged for a calculating search tool for finding a goal. This trend continues, of course, in young adults while life in many homes has moved away from gatherings for family meals, from interesting discussions and making music together. In short, what was called quality time, being together, has turned into a social life where most young people are left to their own devices. Many of them watch movies which are either inappropriate for their age or harmful because of portrayed violence. In sports, young people prefer competitive games to cooperative ones, and they are given less opportunities to become physically active themselves because ever more school work is asked of them. So they prefer to watch these games on a screen rather than get out and play them with friends.
             One can observe that another factor enters the picture: thinking, feeling and willing begin no longer to harmonize. Our evolution has entered a time where thinking, feeling and willing slowly separate from each other. Eventually they must be held together by the developing ego or I. Around the twenty-first year this begins to become possible. In the past, this separation of soul faculties did not take place. Each deed of the will was automatically weighed in the light of thinking and the warmth of feeling.
            How can humanity find a solution to this problem? 
            The above-mentioned activities in homes and schools educate only thought-processes on the one hand, and selfish will through competitive school work and sports on the other. This takes place at too young an age. Very important human soul capacities are neglected, especially those that touch on the feeling realm of the growing child and young adult. Just to give some examples: Looking with a young child to find the wonder of life in nature, in exciting forest formations, and to look with awe at changes that take place in ice crystals in a puddle. One can teach a child to have feelings of love when he or she perceives tiny animals and their ways to hide. Observing a snail: how is it moving? Why does it hide in its shell or carry its house wherever it goes? Where does it want to go when it appears? A friend is crying, why? Can we help him? With very comforting words one can create a simple little story so that tears turn into laughter. All this is helpful for a growing child because it develops empathy for others and for the world around. It develops the feeling for others that was missing in the young murderer mentioned at the beginning.
             When a child grows into a youth he will be asked to process and filter information and to think things over. Then it is wonderful when he or she can do this by weighing the facts, with a soul in which thinking, feeling and willing were allowed to develop equally.
            Just a brief mention of Rudolf Steiner’s recommendations for education.[1] The small child should be shown how to imitate the adult in cleaning vegetables or sweeping the floor regularly, in imitating the making of little rolls from bread dough and watching the rising of the dough before baking. All this will gradually develop the will forces in the young child in a healthy way.
             From seven to fourteen their feelings should be touched by descriptive historical stories and biographies of known humanitarians. Also artistic experiences are of paramount importance. Music, painting with watercolours etc.
            After fourteen only, it is healthy to guide the young adult through true, active thinking processes (as distinct from watching a movie passively).
            Only those can fully understand these connections, who have learned from Rudolf Steiner’s books and printed lectures that the harmonious development of the three soul qualities during the first twenty-one years is of paramount importance.
             I will conclude by saying again: As parents or educators we should be aware that the evolution of humanity is coming to an abyss where, in our time, thinking, feeling and willing are beginning to be held together no longer by themselves, as was the case in the past, but have begun to drift apart. This evolutionary change is as yet not fully realized and understood by educators. It is the maturing ego at around twenty-one that will ever more carry in consciousness the responsibility of holding the three soul forces together in our time.
            Returning to my early morning experience, I recall that on waking a frightening picture stood before my eyes: Today’s youths who have had a chance to develop only the cold intellect through over-identification with today’s technology, little or no exposure to the arts, saw too much violence shown on the media, perhaps complicated by social and family trauma, can easily be led into the horrors of student gun violence the world is increasingly faced with it. While identifying only with their hurt, their anger or frustration with life, a gun is used and someone is shot. The thought that others will suffer has never entered their underdeveloped feeling life.
            As a result biographies are destroyed on both sides of the gun. Many years of prison follow for the perpetrator. No judge, educator or psychiatrist, no medical doctor or prison warden is conscious of the fact that the young offender, even murderer, is not really at fault! In his momentary deed, with an undeveloped ego, perhaps never having experienced love, he could not access his feelings of empathy which could have prevented the deed!
             Instead of being helped by society to make up for lost childhood time he is condemned. What should take place is that, in prison outreach, he is placed into a most loving and beautiful environment where he is led to experiences which perhaps have never before touched him. He needs a harmonious and protected environment where he is taught to paint, to make music, so that after a while he too can enjoy artistic and musical experiences which can strengthen him in the realm of feeling.
            This was my experience on waking, and I called friends together to discuss these ideas. What can be done to create awareness in the world today that these young people are victims of an age where there is a lack of faith, love and hope? I was asked by my friends to write a verse which we all could carry and which would create a circle of light around the world, a world which includes all true faiths. We are not alone, and we can be protected, guided and helped to transform.
             Two days later on waking the following verse came to me in English and within a few days later I was able to write it in German.
The Verse Uniting All of Us.
Faith, Love and Hope
Will lead me in my willing
When I light a candle and unite
With the ever-present Love of the Almighty
And His Creative Force.
It works in me when I in love embrace all people[2]
Who come to me with
Faith, love and hope.
This verse may lead us on our path
To create a circle of light around the world.
It will unite us and disperse loneliness.
It will open our minds to imagination,
Strengthen our inspiration,
And bless us with intuition.
The verse can be used by individuals or in a group setting. Our friends in Vancouver would like to get some feedback from those working with or reading about the circle of light. Please share with us in an email what is important to you so that we can support each other in this initiative.

            Blessings to you all,                                                                                        Revised March 2017
                  Monica Gold          Phone: 604 926 6442, Canada

[1] See Rudolf Steiner or Waldorf Schools, readily available on the internet.
[2] This word was changed from children to people because there is a child in every person. The word people can be changed back to children when the verse is used in regard to the children of a school. 

Posted by Felix Scharnberg for Monica Gold

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Little Red Hen

Dear Friends,

This year promises to be a very interesting one, full of challenges and change. Are you ready? Do you look at the future with optimism, hope, faith?
Today I would like to talk about one of my favorite stories, the story of the Little Red Hen. This Chinese New Year is called the red fire rooster, but I found one website that said it was actually the year of the red hen. Have you ever had the chance to visit a farm fair with hens, roosters and baby chicks? Perhaps you have some of your own and enjoy the gift of fresh eggs. They are absolutely beautiful, and the little baby chicks, under a heat lamp to keep them warm, are simply adorable.
Now chickens are very industrious as we know. Perhaps you already know the story of the little red hen. She lived on a farm with other animals. One day she decided to take on the project of making bread. Now this was a very challenging undertaking for a little chicken. Seeds first had to be planted, the wheat grown, ripened and harvested, ground into flour and finally made into bread. At each step of the way, she asked the others for help:
Who will help plant the seeds?
Who will help harvest the wheat and grind it into flour?
Who will help bake the bread?
None of the other animals were interested in helping, and she did the work all by herself. When the bread was ready, of course the other animals were more than happy to partake, but the little red hen decided she should enjoy the fruits of her labours all by herself. Of course, the story does not mention if she had little chicks to feed, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Perhaps one of the questions could be:
Who will feed my children?
This question is one that can be taken literally and figuratively. On the world stage, I truly believe that we need to be helping our less fortunate neighbours, oh, and by the way, with no feeling that a debt has been incurred and needs to be repaid. That is false economics. Neither is it fair for more industrialized countries to progress at the expense of, and downright cheating, of poorer countries. We know now that whatever happens in one place, has far reaching effects around the world – we do not live in a vacuum. We also must accept that each country, or “empire” has its day, and then recedes as another rises. It is the natural way of history. In other words, cycles of time. We have the technology that can help people be self-sufficient. Biodynamics is making a huge change in areas with poor soil, such as India. We cannot imagine trying to feed a billion people, certainly not without devastating the landscape, flora and fauna.
This year, let’s remember the story of the Little Red Hen. As you sow, so also shall you reap.

Wishing everyone a bountiful harvest!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

In the dark, I light a lantern with my heart

Dear Friends,
This weekend, I had the rare occasion to attend a concert. I had somehow come across the notice for this concert a month ago, and found it intriguing. It was called: Songs of the Desert Sufis, with Rajasthan Josh and Friends. Now I had never attended an Indian music concert before, but it promised to be lively and colorful. Indeed it was, and, as it turned out, just the tonic to take in between two Celebration of Life Services. This group was from a state in India called Rajasthan. The music in the first half featured folk songs from the 12th, 14th, and 17th centuries. This particular concert was dedicated to the late Aga Kahn, and to a musician recently killed by the Taliban, because his songs were those of tolerance, peace and love. The carpet carefully laid out on the stage had first been used by the famous musician, Ravi Shankar.
The audience was filled with women dressed in beautifully colored silk saris. The second half of the concert featured a fusion between local, contemporary artists, and these same elderly musicians from India – simply amazing, the music transcended gender, age, race and country of origin – with mutual respect and the overall love of music, it was well received by the audience. Luckily, there were screens up that held English translations of the songs, many of them being love songs. Think of the poetry of Rumi, and you will know what I am talking about.
This fusion of music was like a marriage and the old quotation: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue. Blue, or bleu, in this case, meaning something raw or pure. I immediately thought of our church service, The Act of Consecration of Man, and what the founders of our church had sought: a Movement for Religious Renewal. Through the guidance of Rudolf Steiner, seven sacraments were re-enlivened with not the past, but the future, in mind.
The enemy may tear down our churches, temples and monuments, but they cannot tear down what lives in our hearts and souls - the music goes on.
Wherever the darkness is touched by the Light, there manifests rainbows of color.

May the Sun Spirit, proclaimed by St. John the Baptist, ray into your hearts.

Dedicated to Tamara Alexandra Machala, 1969-2016: Educator, lover of animals and nature.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Saying "YES"

At the beginning of Advent in 2015, we here in North America switched from the word “Yea” to “Yes” during our Sunday services.
To me, this is a much more powerful affirmative.
Eleven years ago, I said yes and became a board member for our church here in Vancouver. It profoundly changed my life for the better over the ensuing years. This is the power of Yes.
I believe that our angels and spiritual guides can only help us when we are able to be open. To say yes, is to open up untold worlds of possibilities and pathways. Some people also call it Faith, or the power of positivity.
There were times when I was confronted by obstacles and had no idea how they would be overcome. Amazingly, someone always appeared that could help, or circumstances changed in such a way that the obstacles melted away.
In a small way, it also relates to the theme of this year’s 2016 Chinese New Year – the year of the Red Fire Monkey. Both the colour red and the element of fire represent passion. In the Act of Consecration we hear the words, “the fire of Love, creative of Being.”
Monkeys are curious, enviably flexible, swift, nurturing, and intelligent, with a huge capacity for learning. If they see something they want, they will figure out a way to achieve it. They have a very interesting group soul. A study found that where an isolated group of monkeys learned a particular way of doing something new, other groups of monkeys were soon found to be doing the same thing, even though there was no contact between the groups.
This year I encourage everyone to be open to the power of Yes, and be prepared for something unimaginably wonderful to happen.

Oh, and if a priest approaches you with a QUEST (ion), keep in mind Who it is they are asking on behalf of. This year, anything and everything can be possible!
Don't believe me? Check out my friend Stephanie Georgieff's website: The Heart of the Black Madonna. After more than 10 years of working, studying, travelling, writing and untold personal travails, her book will finally be published this Spring!


Friday, January 1, 2016

January 1st, 2016

Human Being

A being of body, soul, and spirit
Welcome to the Earth.
You have come with a soul
Shaped by a long past.
Shaped by the future, too.
Now let it be shaped by the Earth,
The realm of death.
It will be shaped by your community of souls
Who only know death,
By which they have come to know themselves
But, not knowing Christ
They no longer know life.
Fear not!
Through Christ can the Holy Spirit work
The healing spirit
That leads you to the truth.
Be patient!
It may take many life-times.
It may take an instant.
You may wander through many a maze
Of quarks and leptons,
Of holographic dinosaur bones, Artifacts of your creation
Creating many illusions of pasts and futures
Vast universes, rent by black holes.
Full of dead, dumb matter.
But later, if not sooner,
You will look within.
You will find the power
Through which creation comes,
You will find the spirit power
Through which you shape your future
And yourself.
A worthy future, when united with Christ.

by Jerry Bains

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Our Lady of Soufanieh

Dear Friends,

Sometimes it is hard to find the words that are in your heart, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Borrowing from my friend Stephanie Georgieff's theme on Madonna's, I found this image of Mary and Child. Mary appeared 3 times in this town outside Damascus in recent times. The yellow that you see in the picture is olive oil weeping from the picture.

Christianity is only represented by about 10% of the population in Syria, which makes this image even more special. From the New Testament, we know that both Saint Paul and Saint Thomas visited this area. From the Old Testament, Abraham is a well known and revered name.

We here in Canada are preparing to welcome 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months and I thought it would be interesting to give just a snippet of information. Syrian culture goes back thousands of years, and is thought to be as important to history as Egyptian.

What does the name Damascus bring up for you? Silk, of course, as it was on the famous Silk Road. In terms of cuisine, think coffee, hummus, baklava, tabbouleh and shish kebab.

The current troubles in Syria arose because of suppression of pro-democratic parties. It means that millions of people have been displaced. Imagine having to leave behind not just your belongings but in a way, your cultural heritage. These are ordinary people who now must learn a whole new way of life and adapt to a completely different climate. One might call it a modern day Exodus.

We have a proud history of welcoming people from all over the world and respecting their beliefs and culture - it is why we call it The Canadian Mosaic. It won't be easy, but I believe we will benefit in ways we cannot even imagine.

The words of the Epistle from Michaelmas, which I have heard for many years have never been truer or more relevant than today. We can and will extend the hand of friendship.