Book Club: Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter One


Today I will be summarizing and discussing the first chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every other week and would love you to join in with your reflections in the comments section.

Chapter One – A Sacred Circle: The Sanctuary of Family Life

Entering the Sanctuary of Family Life

  • Consider the idea that we choose our family before we are conceived
  • To make a home sacred we first must accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • At home we learn what love is
  • In a family we show love at times with unabashed devotion

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Family Life

  • It is the responsibility of the homemaker to “really make a difference in the world” (p.22)
  • Peace begins in the home by creating a healthy family life that fosters mutual respect and caring

Seeking Wisdom in Family Life

  • As parents we are looking to create an environment where children are able to think and act freely
  • But there is a clear yet fine line between permissiveness and freedom
  • Clear and consistent boundaries are important
  • “Discipline is the seed by which freedom is planted”

The Daily Round

  • Creating a stronger daily rhythm can help to avoid many conflicts between parents & children
  • Rhythm allows children to know what is expected of them

Visions of Beauty

  • Children are like sponges – make sure your home is both beautiful and functional- arrange flowers, light candles and choose peaceful and inspiring colours that speak to the soul. If we feel nurtured by our environment we have more energy to nurture ourselves and others
  • Limit media, especially the news and instead, connect with each other more

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Family Life

  • Here Darian provides two prayers for entering the home which are beautiful transition verses for coming into your home with care
  • Choose a symbol, painting, poem or song to represent your family’s values
  • Rename yourselves with something meaningful and significant to all of you
  • Hold regular family meetings (especially with teenagers) – discuss boundaries, mutual beliefs, values or have fun playing games, singing or praying
  • Sing farewell songs or have a departing verse that you say with one another when going separate ways

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only

  • Write your ideal visions and desires for the next three years down in the present tense as if they are already being actual used – consider quality of family relationships, the physical environment
  • Keep it written down and read it often and meditate on it
  • Consider how to make these visions come to life and take that journey

In this first chapter, Darian explains how we can find meaning in our day to day lives simply by creating family rituals, rhythms, boundaries and traditions that become part of our sacred family fabric. She states, “[Within a family] we experience the freedom of being who we are, who we are becoming, in an atmosphere of respect and love.” (P.21). This quote really resonated with me. The family home is a sacred space. A respectful and loving environment is the foundation for fostering connected and conscientious citizens of the world.

A little example of how we used this chapter in our own lives: A year or so ago my children (and I) were having a difficult time transitioning from the school ride home and then into the house in a peaceful way. Everyone was often hot, tired and irritable. I insisted each child carried their own bags (and often shoes!) into the house and that they brought their lunch boxes to the kitchen before beginning their afternoon play. For many days it was hard to just get all four of them out of the car without a tear. I decided to add something to our afternoon rhythm- a “Coming Home Verse”. Each day as we gathered on the front porch together we held hands and said one of Darian’s “Prayers for the Home” before opening the door. It acted as a big in breath– centering us and landing us all back on the same page.

If you’re reading along, what did you glean from this chapter? Have you tried any of her suggestions? Any aha moments? We’d love to hear.

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and Thank you for your support.

*“Quotes from Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian used by permission. Copyright 2011 by Charlene DeShea Bagbey Darian. Revised 2nd Edition.”

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.