The period of national lockdown that occurred over the Holy Week and Easter period changed the experience of this festival for all of us, in one way or another. The priests and members of community compensated by finding ways of reaching out to enliven this central Christian festival. Here are some thoughts from individual members of our extended community on their experience of this period. Editor
Silvia Jensen: Dear people from South African Christian Community,
I am from Brazil, my name is Silvia Jensen, a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, and I am very pleased to receive your newsletter letter regularly.
I got to know you through Sonya and Thomas Holtz.
They hosted me in their house and Sonya took me to get to know the church and its surroundings.
Every time that comes a new issue of the newsletter I rejoice because of the deep content and the images you share.
Besides being good it is addressed to the southern hemisphere and I feel understood. It talks directly to my heart.
Thank you so much.
Jean and Evan McGillivray: Easter 20/20
Recent times have been much the same, but strangely different. Perhaps because we live on the church property.
The Eastern weekend was strange, but very powerful. The contemplations and sermons from the Priests by email were extraordinarily uplifting and helped carry the Easter message through the turmoil and confusion.
Everyday life has been fruitful. Evan and I made new curtains out of fabric given to us by a community member and managed to clean dining room chairs etc.
On a more serious note we have made more than 50 masks which were hung on the fence in Dover Street for anyone who needed one to help themselves. This is still going on.
Of course we miss Kerry and her boys and Sean at a Kibbutz in Israel. But we keep in touch here and with Greig in China.
So it remains a case of "Onwards and upwards".
Wendy Smith: Would you please convey 'hearty thanks' to the priests for their dedication and documented insights and photos! Despite the method/medium of communications, it has proved encompassing, sharing warmth and personal spaces of interest.
Annelie Franken: Thank you to Reingard for the contemplations.
It created a sense of belonging to a Community on a deeper level.
Eva Knausenberger: The Epistle of Passion Tide describes our human condition in the time of the coronavirus in detail. It attacks the head, (our thinking) our hearts (caring), our blood, (life-giving), our breath (want of, inability to breathe). And while I live in isolation, on an island in the Southern Pacific, where my spiritual strength lies lamenting and in the vain hope that 'this cup pass me by' I felt strongly, that despair would grip me, unless I were able to experience the community of Christians and the healing power of the Sacraments in solitude but also in spiritual togetherness. And on Easter Sunday -at least for moments, I felt joy flooding the world as the sun rose. He is risen for us and for the streams the dead, dying and suffering people. That is a promise we can all live with.
Pam Stevens: On contemplating the Holy Week services, receiving the readings and contemplations from the priests, also being present at the same time and working with what Richard so kindly gave as a guideline.
"The essence for me was feeling the presence of attending at the same time as everyone else. Feeling included and being able to sense the stillness within and without. Also my ability to listen inward became more centred and concentrated…Also having the contemplation to ponder throughout the day or even week has brought a different tone to my days. In gratitude."
I have attempted to do this on my own for a long time, but realising I am included and consciously connecting with everyone has enhanced my ability to be present. Community brings another dimension. Where two or more are gathered.
Wiebke Holtz: The experience of Easter has been new and very inward. It cannot be described other than saying I felt very closely connected to the Priests and the Church Community through the wonderful texts sent out and at the same time feeling an isolation and yet an inner strengthening through the own effort necessary for the work.
Jane Abrahams: A NEW KIND OF COMMUNITY GATHERING
Easter week during the coronavirus lockdown: it is April – time always of new initiatives; the crisp early morning air waking us out of our summer reverie, reminding us that there is work to do – perhaps a new kind of work now.
Every morning, for those who wished to join it, we had a Community Gathering via Zoom. Sitting in our respective homes we were able to meet each other again face to face. To see, every morning of Easter week, the core group of Susan, John-Peter, Gillian and Natalie, with intermittent visits from Lizzie, Abel and Mags, became very precious. We experienced many profound moments in our conversations, which were inspired by the daily contemplations sent out from Reingard, Michaël and Richard.
This was a new way of being part of a community, a pioneering way, brought about by restraints over which we had no control.
These meetings are continuing every Sunday during the lockdown. Perhaps more of us will be moved to come to them. I am so grateful to Susan and John-Peter for this initiative.
Briar and Michael Grimley: To the Priest of The Christian Community in South Africa,
We are writing to thank you all for the central role you played in our Easter experience this year. You did such a soul spiritual deed by making it possible to nourish our souls and spirits and give us substance to deepen our lives and thereby help us develop the capacities we need to stand in the world as helpers.
I (Briar) have attempted a pastel artwork as part of our Easter experience and would like to share it with you. Here are also some notes on it, and a lecture which served as an inspiration for it.
Notes on a pastel art piece by Briar Grimley arising from her Easter experience March 2020.
The outer circle is created by the journey through Time during the Holy Week. The images are taken from the Planetary Seals given by Rudolf Steiner, and the colours from indications given by eurythmists. The journey begins on Palm Sunday – the image ‘coming out of white’ on the top right, and moves clockwise through Monday (Moon day), Tuesday (Mars day), Wednesday (Mercury day), Thursday (Jupiter day), Friday (Venus day), to Saturday (Saturn day), and into the centre for Easter Sunday.
The inner circle is a journey through Space, in the centre is the Earth, now a Sun, and moves through the spacial line up of planets Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
Shining out of the centre is the Risen Christ, with Earth, now Sun, in His heart, with feet on Mercury… the stage of Earth evolution at the time of Golgotha… and arms outstretched to embrace the Entire Universe.
The words at the bottom are from Rudolf Steiner’s lecture on Richard Wagner and Mysticism. This arose from watching a video of an opera rendition of Wagner’s Parsifal. In the lecture Rudolf Steiner relays Wagner’s question: Who redeems the Redeemer? The answer is in the writing below the pastel work. I was so deeply moved by Wagner’s ponderings. See the attached lecture.
Every morning our Active Practical Love Group would ‘check in’ at 8.45, a few friends shared pictures of our Easter centrepieces, and on Easter Sunday two friends sent a video of their singing ‘Christ is Risen, Hallelujah’… amongst many other beautiful messages.
Every morning Michael and I would light a candle from our changing centrepiece, create a holy space, say the Lord’s Prayer aloud, read the recommended bible reading by the Christian Community priests, then their individual contemplations, and ended by reading the corresponding passage of each day of the Holy Week from Emile Bock’s ‘The Three Years’. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights we watched and listened to Wagner’s Parsifal, to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis on Saturday evening, and on Sunday evening to Handel’s Messiah. On Saturday and on Sunday mornings we watched the sunrise… brightly coloured on Saturday, and a battle between light and dark on Sunday, with the joy of the light being victorious.
And every day I travelled alongside a nearby friend who sent me a photo of a new painting she painted each day, with such soul depth that my heart was overwhelmed and constantly on the edge of tears. Each painting was inspired by the communications from the priests.
And then a bit on the ‘ridiculous’ side… our friend and neighbour celebrated Easter Sunday with us, with a festive meal… she on her side of the fence, and we on ours. Community, come what may!
It is with enormous gratitude to all of you who played the smallest to the biggest parts in this journey that I humbly share my experience.
brotherliness - a found poem
as an Eastertide greeting by Shirley Marais (Higgins)
the leaves pinnate
odd or even
alternate and pinnately compound
and serrated toothed
feather-formed some say
around the petiole
the stalk that joins the leaflets
to the stem
and the in-breath
where the leaves end
before the sepals begin
and the sepals themselves
those five brothers
who hold the consummate red
roses are shrubs
climbing or trailing
the stems of which are usually armed
copiously with prickles
commonly known as thorns
oh never mind
and never mind the thorns
it’s the fragrance
saturation of light
and form and colour
that aches the heart
give me the aching colour
the star-shaped scent
that speaks in the deep heart
give me the starry fragrance
that aches on the in-breath
and awakens my heart’s deep sun
so for a moment I can feel
I am a brother
of the heavens
and of the earth
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