Monday, June 15, 2020

Living Gold

Dear Friends,
Incredibly, it has been almost 8 years since our Living Gold conference here in Vancouver. How the time has flown! I sometimes wonder where it has gone, but then look at my granddaughter, now 7, and then I know. For me, this event stands out as the most golden moment in my life.
One of the biggest events was the presentation of the play, the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. One line in particular has been in my mind lately: What is more precious than gold? Answer – Conversation.
How true this is today. One would like to think that many of the problems facing the world today could be solved through the simple act of coming together and engaging in open dialogue, exchanging points of view, and coming to a mutual understanding.
As almost the entire world hit the pause button for a few weeks or months, many problems that had been simmering on the back burner, so to speak, have now exploded under this pressure cooker.
For those who may be somewhat familiar with chemistry and geology, these are natural occurrences as well. A volcanic explosion, while chaotic, eventually produces fertile land, ideal for growing crops.
The production of gold, in fact, involves a process called smelting. Through the process of exposing the raw ore to very high heat, the pure gold is separated from the dross, or impurities.
I look and watch young children at play today and I have hope for the future. How easily they come together and naturally be willing to share, or work together on a small art project. There is a generosity of spirit, a brief camaraderie caught up in the process of creating. Instant friendships are made. One may conjecture that this is possible because children tend to live in the moment. The past is forgotten, and there is no concern for the future. It tends to be the opposite for adults. We find it hard to let go of the past and worry about the future, to the point where we forget how to live for today.
When we settle down for the night, we can give up what happened during the day. When we turn our thoughts to loved ones who have crossed over the threshold, we give them nourishment. During the process of sleep, the spiritual world sends us strength for the new day. It is a process of giving and receiving. Through co-creation, we can work together for the future.
Something new and good is in the process of bursting in, like a picture of an exploding volcano, or perhaps a newborn baby. We have the opportunity to grasp it and work with it, for our future generations.
                                                                Ash, water and salt
                                                                A baptism by fire
                                                                The Light is kindled.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The time has come...

The walrus said, to speak of other things…
We have presently been given the rare opportunity to take time to observe what is happening around us. Things even more contagious than this virus arising: kindness, caring, generosity. At the same time, what is happening to our environment? Our skies and seas are clearing. The Earth is starting to heal, and yes, it demands sacrifice. What are we leaving behind for future generations? Is it any wonder that so many young people are already stressed out? Why are so many people hungry and homeless? Are we so greedy and self-absorbed that we do not care what effect our actions have on others?
What of our personal relationships to family and friends? These, too, may be presently regarded in a different light. Perhaps we may even have the chance to gaze a little more deeply inwardly. In the face of uncertainty, we may also ask ourselves, are we prepared for whatever comes? Have we done everything we need to do, said everything we need to say?
We already know our economy will look differently coming out of this. What survived, and what did not? What lessons must we learn? Do we want to do things differently to ensure a better and brighter future, or will we race backwards to our doom? For if we do not learn the lessons now, there will be a next time, soon, and it will be far worse. We can already see that we must be much more self-sufficient, not only as individuals but also as countries. Let us try to be a little more mindful of things like consumer spending, the foods we eat and where they come from. How much waste we create, and how it is treated. Are things made to last, or made to break down? How much do we recycle, reuse, re-purpose?
It seems as though the last century was one war after another. This century is one of war waged on a microscopic level, as one virus after another rises up. We sit and listen in morbid fascination as the number of cases and deaths rise around the world. This only serves to objectify the problem and hold it at arm’s length, until it hits us personally. God bless those who are putting their own lives at risk to help others. I am grateful every day for food in the stores, recycling pickup, etc. I am grateful for the birds singing and spring flowers blooming. I am grateful for the chance to still connect with family and friends. I am grateful for the house cat who keeps me company and helps me to destress. I am grateful for the people in my life right now who are allowing me to share their journey.
 I have great respect for wealthy philanthropists who give back to the community. When wealth is only a number on paper, it means nothing. We learned this during the stock market crash of the last century. It is only meaningful when it is put to use to help others in need. Do you need to be wealthy to help others? Absolutely not. No matter how little you think you have, there are others who have even less. We do not even have to talk about money. It could be your knowledge, experience, time, your talents, your energy. We all have something we can share to help make things better for other people, our future generations, and our planet.
The time has come: to face the unknown with courage, faith, kindness, selflessness and love.


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Life at the Seminary

Hi Everyone!  I hope this finds you all well.

It’s cold and windy here in Toronto, but I am enjoying my half hour walk to the Seminary.  I’ve now experienced all weather - Sun, rain, wind and snow.  The work we are doing in our courses has an impact on how I’m experiencing nature.  This week we had an intensive course on the First Goetheanum with Ruediger Janisch.   This was a wonderful journey through photos, drawings and descriptions of what the Goetheanum looked like, how it was built, the windows, wood carvings, and what it might be like to experience it.  To start each morning we moved Eurythmy forms and then drew them with our feet.  Rudolph Steiner gave this exercise to eurythmists, therapeutic teachers, teachers and to actors.

Seminarian drawing with his foot
Not only did we draw with our feet but we also had to make a mirror image on opposite sides of the page, and we had to switch feet.  We did this 4 days, each day adding a form.  I had no idea how hard this could be!!!  But then when I was walking to school I started to notice mirroring in nature wherever I looked.  On the first snowfall I saw the leaves mirroring below:

Found on the sidewalk, Richmond Hill
The first year students are studying the book Goethe’s Theory of Knowledge.  Thus far we have been reading and discussing the experience of thought.  Next week our class will try to put these ideas into dramatic form with a skit - we think we’ll call it Hegel’s Begals.  Hopefully it depicts the idea of objective thoughts!

I am really enjoying our art course.  One session we were asked to paint a landscape depicting where we were at in our journey with the Seminary.   I was missing the mountains of home and started painting them and then added some light that turned into a cross and then three paths arose:

Erica’s Painting
This painting could be looked at as paths to the Christ, but for me it is something different.  It’s a picture of being at the alter, turning around and taking Christ within me on any path in life.

Next week we have the course The Second Coming - Expectations in the Gospels.  The week after, November 18th - 21st, is an open course at the Seminary. Anyone can join us in person or on the computer!  It would be wonderful to have some of you join us.  To register follow the link below...  a donation is asked for but not necessary to participate.  Perhaps you could get together to watch, perhaps you’ll see me as I’ll be in class during the webinar!!  The course is called

The New Revelation of Christ: The Second Coming and the ‘Lord of Karma’

I’m half way through our first semester - 6 weeks and I shall be flying home for Christmas.  I’m hoping to be at church in Vancouver on December 22nd and perhaps see some of you.  Before that I hope to post again.
Warmly, Erica

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dear Friends,

I have now been at the Seminary for two weeks.  This has been amazing, inwardly stretching, sometimes deeply moving, as well as just plain hard work!
The Front of the Seminary
Our morning course last week was made up of enlightening presentations from the second year students on a book of plays by Rudolf Steiner called the Mystery Dramas.  Each presented a character in the book.  Daunting exercise.....  This week we had a class on Body, Soul, and Spirit, as well as one on Goethe’s World View.  We also had a class giving us guidance for building a relationship to the Call - what is this, where will it take me??? And a beginning to looking at Prayer.  To balance this out we have speech and Eurythmy classes, as well as an art course.  Very full!!!!!

The church community in Toronto has been very welcoming and I’ve met some very nice people.  At Michaelmas their choir provided wonderful music to accompany the service.  The church is very beautiful with wonderful acoustics.  We have a service everyday except Saturday and Wednesday.  On Monday we have the service in German - a different experience of the service for me.  It has been wonderful to live with the Sacrament so regularly.  I will have server orientation on the 20th and then join the server rotation.

The Church - the Seminary is located behind the chapel
During the coming week, the first year students will give their presentations on the theme Reincarnation and Karma.  We have all been given lectures to present on. I have been working on A Western Approach to Reincarnation and Karma.  This study encompasses an historical view, where it can be seen in modern times, and Rudolf Steiner’s insights - Christ as the central figure in Karma and Destiny.  

Sometimes I still can’t believe I am at the Seminary.  I am so grateful to have this chance to deepen my relationship with the Christian Community.  I will post again soon!  Erica

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mt. Buchanan
Dear Friends,                      
Here is my first post to share about my Seminary journey.  Before leaving for Toronto I decided to drive with my husband into the mountains to gather my thoughts for my first presentation in my class.

During a lecture in Dornach, 1st November 1915,   Rudolf Steiner said, ‘Compressed into a few brief words, this is the truth that can inspire us as a source of strength: “The Mystery of Golgotha itself reveals that it must be understood spiritually, that we must seek for Christ as Spirit.” And then we must also say: “Christ is seeing us, Christ is perceiving us.”’

Christ is seeing us, we are being seen.  When I feel truly seen, I feel that someone truly knows me.  In the lecture series entitled ‘From Jesus to Christ’, Steiner describes how Christ is directly involved with our destiny.  This has filled me with such gratitude.  Who better to work with my destiny than Christ the Teacher, the Healer, the Saviour - He who sees me!  I have no idea where this new part of my destiny at the seminary will lead me, or for how long, or what will happen along the way... but I can hold the words - “Christ is seeing us.”

The Purcell Mountains, Kootenay Lake

The Seminary begins today, Michaelmas!  I hope to post again soon.  Wishing you well, Erica

Thursday, March 7, 2019

It is in us to give.

I am a bit slow this year in presenting the Chinese symbol for the new year.
This is the Year of the Pig. The Pig is the last symbol in a 12 year cycle, then it begins again. For many cultures, the beginning of the new year is prepared for by the giving of gifts, paying off debts and a thorough house cleaning, so that the new year can begin fresh.
Now, contrary to what one normally may think of a “pig”, in Chinese symbology the pig represents generosity.
This can invite a great deal of introspection, asking oneself, “What can I give? And to whom?” This can also tie into the theme for Lent and Passiontide.
It’s an interesting thing that giving and receiving can be reciprocal. If one is fortunate to receive something, it can often inspire that person to give something, and it goes on.
I would like to present a very recent experience in my family:
My son the former baker, whom I have mentioned before, was suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with a life and death health issue last November. The only solution was a bone marrow transplant. In Canada, the donation of blood and stem cells is voluntary. It truly is a gift of life. He had to have weekly transfusions of blood and platelets while waiting. A matching donor had to be found, and the procedure lined up, which involved a week of chemotherapy, and will involve many weeks of recovery. Provided all goes well, he will have a new lease on life. You cannot imagine the deep feeling of gratitude I have to this unknown donor, and to all the staff at the hospital.
This is an extreme example, of course. A gift can be big or small, simple or complex. It can be a simple act of kindness. It can be to someone you know, or to a complete stranger. It can be a small gift to be appreciated in the moment, or something greater for the future.
Our church also received a very unexpected gift of a beautiful piano, out of the blue, by a Chinese gentleman who lives nearby. He is not connected in any way to the church, but wanted to donate the piano somewhere it would be appreciated. It was close, coincidentally, to the Chinese New Year.
The point is, it is in us to give, in whatever way we find meaningful. This applies as well in a larger sense to our beautiful planet. We have spent years thoughtlessly taking everything we could out of the earth, and we are now seeing the consequences. We have to work harder at learning how to work with nature, and the weekend workshop in North Vancouver at the end of March with Tanis Helliwell, will hopefully address this issue. If you cannot make it, check her out online. She has given workshops in many parts of the world.
Spring is just around the corner – a time of renewal – and a time for new things. Let’s see what each of us can do.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dear Friends,
Some people in our congregation have kindly expressed interest in my trip to the Balkans and Italy this past month. This trip, my first to Europe, came about because my friend, Stephanie Georgieff, is currently working with the Peace Corps in Albania. You may be a little familiar with her research and subsequent publication of a book on the Black Madonna. When she completes her stint with the Peace Corps, she is planning a walk along the Camino de Santiago, focusing on the Black Madonna. Below is her youtube channel, and blog for the Camino trip.
youtube channel for Heart of the Black Madonna
blog for Camino trip
She is also taking advantage of her time in Albania to research and delve into the history, and particularly the development, of religion in the Balkans. Below you will find some excerpts from the lectures she has prepared so far, which one day she hopes to publish in a book, as well.
It was a whirlwind trip, with only two full days in each country of Italy (Ravenna), Greece (Thessaloniki), Albania (Berat) and Macedonia (Ohrid). As such, I can only give my impressions as a tourist, and it was a very wonderful thing to have my own “private tour guide.” One Sunday, I will bring some maps to talk about our journey.
One of the first things I did upon my return was to attend the last lecture by Rev. Bastiaan Baan, on the redemption of evil. It was a very wonderful lecture, and resonated particularly with me, having just returned from our exploration of Byzantine art, culture and religion. I hope perhaps someone might consider posting some notes on our blog of this enlightened weekend workshop, which is particularly apropos for our time.
My trip was almost two years in the planning, once I knew Stephanie was going to be in Europe, as we had always hoped to do a trip together. I’m pretty sure that my mom, who blessedly passed in February, came along, too, and helped smooth our travels. It’s interesting, too, that some of the things I talked about in my last blog a year ago, came up again on this trip, in Stephanie’s lectures, and also in Rev. Baan’s.
Here are the excerpts from Stephanie’s lectures:

The first evangelization and Christian communities outside of Palestine were in the Balkans in Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

When we combine all that we know about Paul, his birth, his conversion, his becoming a new human, as he proclaimed the message and impulse of the Christ, that we are all to become anew, we are to transubstantiate ourselves and the earth, to marry faith and knowledge into a new form of thinking that will enable us to strive towards wholeness, it is fitting that he was born and worked in the Balkans. Paul helped weave both east and west into his evangelization and example, it is appropriate that he was from the Balkans and evangelized in the Balkans as the geographic location of the “bridge.” His ministry is truly the bridge leading up to the 6h Epoch, where the Christ Impulse will be fully taken up by Humanity.

The famed Saints Cyril and Methodius are claimed by the entire Balkan region. For our purposes, we will say they are Macedonians since they are said to have been born in Thessaloniki, a Macedonian city that was never conquered by any other nation state during the time of their births. They were born to a Byzantine official and a Macedonian Mother, and were fluent in Greek and Macedonian. Upon the death of their father, they were sent to be educated in Constantinople, and later were sent in 860 by the Byzantine Emperor Michael III and Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople to be missionaries in the ancient Kingdom of the Khazars. Cyril and Metodi came out of the Dionysian tradition. It was also commissioned for the brothers to develop an alphabet for the Slavs, scholars put the probable date at 863. Scholars also argue that St Clement of Ohrid developed the Cyrillic Alphabet in the 890’s. The alphabet in question had its first iteration as the Glagolitic Script, which is the original alphabet constructed by Cyril and Metodi, the modern Cyrillic alphabet derives from this 9th century alphabet

Can it be that this expression of the mystery of humanity is for the new age? The Sophianic Age of Philadelphia? Is this the new fully conscious free approach to conveying the mysteries of the Cosmos for a new era? In many ways, the Slavs seemed to skip the materialism that developed in the West. While the nations of the former USSR and other communist countries are hurtling towards materialism in a frenetic pace, the peoples are questioning the consequences of such practices. Through the trials and oppression of the Ottomans, the Mongols, and through communism and state imposed atheism, the Eastern Church maintained its ancient mystery roots, while the Western Latinized Church developed intellectually and materialistically. While the current mass embrace of materialism has deeply wounded the Slavs since the fall of Communism, there is much that is still there in terms of the soul of the peoples. I am contemplating that the Slavic Cyrillic Alphabet may have been instituted in time so that there could be this mystic, but conscious union between Humanity and the Divine through the word, the Christian Logos, word, alphabet of the future.

Byzantine art is a mutual experience. In Byzantium, people viewed, touched and kissed Icons and in turn the images spoke to them. In Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic traditions, the sacrament of confession is done in front of an Icon, as the Icon is seen as the conduit between the earthly and the spiritual. People prayed THROUGH the Icon, not TO the Icon. Icons were seen as active forces in Byzantine society, seen as protectors and healers brought out and paraded about during festivals and also during times of crisis. The belief in the active power of image is what lies at the heart of Byzantine art and what makes it so different from art produced anywhere else in the world during the first Christian millennium.

A hallmark of Byzantine Churches is the circular dome placed on a square. The dome is symbolic of the chalice of the Last Supper overturned to pour grace on the congregants. The dome is considered a circle of Divinity, uniting with the Earth as symbolized by the square (four elements that make up the Earthly existence, and the Cube is the geometric basis of the globe.) By uniting the circular dome with the square cube, it signifies the cosmic unity with the earth, the meeting of Divinity and Earthly Humanity

Hagia Sophia means Holy Wisdom, it is significant that a Christ mosaic was in the top of the dome of the cathedral, his rays pouring downward to the community of Christians below. The Lyre of Apollo is related to the human brain. As the Lyra constellation is the celestial correspondent of the Cathedral, it is as if the cosmos through Christ was raining wisdom directly into the human brain and heart in this sacred architecture. The dome, as stated above is also symbolic of the chalice, the grail, where the transformation of matter through the sacrament of the Eucharist occurs. The Dome is the overturned Chalice that pours the grace of transformation, transubstantiation, the facilitating of the deification of Humanity. By this construction, the deification of the congregants, of matter was being witnessed.

I apologize for this quite lengthy blog, but hope it will give you some pleasure in reading.

Love, Sparky