Help Us To Help

You will find enclosed in this Seminary Newsletter an envelope in which we ask you please to send us a check! Your contribution enables us to help all of our students. We can keep the Seminary tuition modest only when a group of friends supports us. Donations marked “Tuition Fund” will help students pay for their training. In addition, we will need some extra support to organize our geology course in Colorado and Utah in September, and as you read at the beginning of this issue, we will also have to invest substantially in the work of our new administrator.
Please help us to help—and to set sail for our future goals!

 

IRON BRIDGE
By the strength of our fathers who have plowed the black earth By our youthful wonder that has scraped the high sky.
May we, as an iron bridge between two worlds, stand free.

IRON WILL
As iron plows dark earth and scrapes bright clouds,
As blood bears the might of our fathers and lifts the sight of our children, As an iron bridge between two worlds,
Will man stand free?

— Manuel Toro from the class “The World of Things”

A New Beginning

After a year of relative quiet in our building, the Seminary is full of life again. While the Act of Consecration of Man is celebrated each morning at the church, someone is already preparing breakfast for our nine students.

After a full morning program, there are usually practical lessons in the afternoon: eurythmy, speech, and work at the Seminary and in our garden. Almost every week, the students meet a new guest-teacher. A special feature of this group of students is that they want to make a deeper connection to these teachers—not only during lessons, but also to the people they are outside the classroom. The students invite each teacher to join them for a dinner at the dormitory, where they listen to stories of their life and work. The students also use as many opportunities as possible to sing together. It makes our house seem more like a bustling youth hostel than a quiet monastery!

In November, our ninth student joined us: Lisa Hildreth is in her fourth year of study and in the final portion of her priest training. In December, we will hear more about a possible priest ordination next spring.

In the winter/spring semester we will offer three Open Courses, in which we hope to meet many of our friends and supporters of the Seminary. For the program, see the last page of this newsletter!

 

Picture: Javelin throwing in speech class

The Way to the Seminary

Looking back and trying to find the starting-point, that milestone that reads “Zero”—it must be somewhere in my biography, or perhaps at a very concrete place in the world, where I started walking, knowing where I was headed.

Maybe this milestone was the conversation with Rev. Oliver Steinrueck back in October, maybe it was seeing the road to Carmen Court, both paths dotted with brilliant light. Or maybe there were multiple, overlapping roads and milestones and mile-pebbles on the roads, and big questions asked throughout my life in Brazil and in Florida?

Sometimes the questions came from within: What am I supposed to do with my life? Occasionally the questions were asked by friends: “Do you want to study at the Seminary?” I did not think so in 1996, when I first visited the Seminary in Stuttgart, together with a larger delegation of members of the Christian Community in South America. There was, however, admiration, maybe a slight envy, of the people who were allowed to study there. All these cool subjects they got to learn rather than tending to the immediate concerns of survival.

One morning in April I woke up and knew: This may be allowed, may be available, maybe even for me, who have lived this long and have felt like the workers in the parable of the owner of the vineyard, waiting, waiting, that the call would finally come for us to work where it is needed.

So I started this journey of learning more about this Master. And He has made me see the work that wants to be done inside myself, and the generous pay for all of us, independent of when we start working: the self, the radiant I.

Picture: L-R, back: Vera Swift, Brazil; Rev. Gisela Wielki; Melissa Barton, USA; David Buckner, USA; Linda Michaels, US; Bastiaan Baan, Seminary Director; Manuel Toro, Colombia. Front: Olive Nicole Wells, USA; Dorothea Foerster, Germany.

My Path to the Seminary

My path to the Seminary began long ago, when I first discovered The Christian Community in Seventh Grade. I began attending the Children’s Service and then The Act of Consecration of Man every Sunday. For ten years I was involved in the Christian Community Summer Camp, first as a camper and then as a counselor. As a teenager I participated in every group trip and youth gathering available.

This was not because I was forced to attend by my family—as was the case with some of my friends—in fact, I would often walk alone to church on Sundays. I felt connected to the Christian Community in a deep and mysterious way—a way that I cannot describe in words.

I always knew that Seminary would be a part of my path one day. But I thought that “one day would probably not come for a long, long time”. It seemed that the Seminary was too big, too grand, too special for an ordinary young person like me. First I had other things to do (so I thought): travel, finish college, be- come a Waldorf class teacher, maybe even get married and have a family; that was my plan.

Then things changed. In February 2014, my life was turned upside-down when, at the young age of 62, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was the kind of cancer not easy to cure. I was devastated, to say the least. Would she live to see me graduate college or to be at my wedding? Would she live to hold my firstborn child in her arms—become a grandmother?

Needless to say, the months following the diagnosis were full of turmoil. How do we spend our time? Do we focus on researching methods of healing, or
do we spend quality-time together creating memories? When could we take
a trip abroad together? How can we feel light and laughter when faced with darkness? Suddenly, we were racing against the clock and it seemed as if there would not be enough time to do everything we so much wished …

That’s when the thought occurred to me: You never know how much time you will have on this earth! If you already know what you love and are passionate about, then why not just stop putting other things before it? Before it’s too late, do that thing you’ve always wanted to do! This thought lived so strongly within me, that within a few short months, my application was sent off to the Seminary.

I knew what had been living in my heart—what I wanted to do—and yet I had been allowing other things cloud it over. But that would not be anymore. Now the time was ripe for me to take hold of this desire to deepen my relationship
to the Christian Community. I would set aside time to study and learn what the Christian Community really is! Why did Steiner give the indications that he did for the service? What is the importance of the Act of Consecration of Man for the earth? What is the significance of the existence of the Christian Community? How can Christ become more and more a part of daily life, and how to harness the power from His endless sources?

And just like that, I became a student in the Seminary, studying alongside eight other passionate people who hold the same kinds of questions in their hearts. We are on a path of discovery. We look out into the world to find what is wait- ing to be discovered; we go into ourselves to discover the world inside. We learn more and more what it is to be walking the Christian path.

Sadly, I had to hug my earthly mother goodbye on September 26, 2014, just two weeks after the start of my studies at the Seminary. My mother will not be on earth to see me graduate college, to see me get married, or to become a grand- mother, but she did get to witness the beginning of my Seminary studies, and that made her very happy.

My mother knew it was a dream of mine to study at the Seminary. She always knew that it was a part of my path, and she was right. So far, it is deeply satisfying to be here. The Seminary is big and grand and special, but I am ready now to meet it. I am delighted and incredibly grateful that my path has led me to study at the Seminary just at this time.

Picture: Clockwise from bottom left: Vera Swift, Brazil; Cinzia Gior- danelli, Italy; Melissa Barton, USA; Olive Nicole Wells, USA; Dorothea Foerster, Germany; Linda Michaels, USA; David Buckner, USA; Bastiaan Baan, Seminary Director; Manuel Toro, Colombia.

by Melissa Barton

Finding Support for Life’s Challenges

How many students are there? Where do you live? Are you having fun? What have you been learning?

These are just a few of the many questions I’ve been asked since arriving in September for the Seminary training. Since most of the answers are easy— there are eight of us in the first-year class, the Holder House dorm, and Yes!—I thought that I would do my best to answer “What have you been learning?” in this article. Please note that this is a very brief summary, as each Main Lesson is five hours of classtime. I would be happy to go into more detail about the classes if anyone wants to email me.

Our first week’s Main Lesson was with our Seminary Director, Rev. Bastiaan Baan. The class was Finding Our Own Sources, and we talked about prayer and meditation. Besides talking about the basics, i.e., having a designated place
to meditate daily so that our etheric bodies are helped into the rhythm, and choosing one or two verses or prayers rather than having too many, we talked about developing “active receptiveness” and “receptive activity”; references
in the gospels to finding a quiet place within; and how what is gained from meditation and prayer helps us in our daily lives. We also talked about how meditation is the only completely free activity in our lifetime, how consistency is important (one stitch every day in a year makes a sleeve) and how meditating at night gives direction before other forces take over the ship, and in the morning because the morning hour has gold in its mouth.

Our next Main Lesson was Places of Ancient Initiation with Rev. Julia Polter, a priest and Seminary advisor from Boston. It was a fantastic Open Course week, with fifteen visitors as well as Rev. Liza Marcato (also a Seminary advisor) from Hillsdale, NY, joining our daily classes and our classes in the evenings. Julia and Bastiaan explained how for thousands of years, in different places, initiates from the mystery schools sought connection to the “Source,” the spiritual world, by undergoing initiations, and we saw slides from some of these locations. One of the guest participants is writing an article about this Open Course, so I won’t try to summarize it; however, my personal reflection in this class was a question about initiations in our modern life.

In the midst of the beauty and peace that we find in the natural world and when we are connected to our Source, the modern world is filled with challenges of “dragon-like” behaviors that cause chaos. It seems like an initiation for each of us to come to see the “dragon-like” behaviors for what they are, and instead of judging and labeling them (also “dragon-like” behaviors!), asking ourselves, “How do I connect to the spiritual world and bring love and understanding to what feels like chaos?” As Georg Kühlewind asks in his book Becoming Aware of the Logos: Is not this darkness there, perhaps, in order to make love necessary, to call it forth—so to speak—out of ourselves? In order that love might bridge non-understanding and thereby become?

Our next Main Lesson was on The Act of Consecration of Man. Bastiaan brought us into this class by asking each of us to talk about our experiences in the service, and then he explained the four parts of the service that are the next “evolution” of the four parts of the old initiations: Gospel Reading—“Coming into contact with death”; Offertory—“Passing through the elemental world”; Transubstantiation—“Seeing the sun at midnight”; and Communion—“Meeting with the upper and lower Gods.” He also explained that this ritual is not invented; it is a reflection of what is happening in the spiritual world. By bringing ourselves to this sacrament, we unite with our communities and with the spiritual world to support Christ in penetrating into humanity and into the physical material of the earth and transforming it into love.

In our Philosophy of Freedom course the following week (the first half of the book), with Rev. Jim Hindes from Denver, we had a thinking workout. Out of all of the recaps, this is the one I’m most unsure about writing, but I’ll try. To summarize the book so far: 1) We “train our thinking and our observing” by thinking and observing our own thinking and observing; 2) how we see things depends on the inner state of our souls; 3) by thinking, we unite with humanity and with the spiritual world; and 4) by thinking, we become free, and we have more options in life. (Jim is coming back to do the second half of the book, so I’ll see then if I’m on track with this summary.)

Then we studied The Christian Community Creed with Rev. Patrick Kennedy from Washington, DC. Wow. We went through the Creed line by line and talked about how it differs from the Nicene Creed (written in 325 AD); how it creates community and aligns us; how it also came out of the mystery schools; and how it takes us through time with the Trinity and then ends with a call to action for human beings today.

One section of the Creed that fits with the “life challenges” theme of this article is: He will in time unite for the advancement of the world with those whom, through their bearing, he can wrest from the death of matter. Through Him can the Healing Spirit work. Even though this verse is referring to souls who have already died, it’s also important to remember in our daily lives. When we are in the midst of a personal life challenge, we often experience a temporary loneliness, separation, confusion, or closing in. The Creed reminds us that during those times, Christ will help to “wrest” us from these feelings. If we approach Him and pray for those who are suffering, through Him the Healing Spirit can work.

It has been an amazing few weeks so far. Thank you for holding us in your thoughts and prayers. I hope you can join us for an Open Course soon!

by Linda Michaels
Picture: Class with Daniel Hafner