Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Eight


Today I will be summarizing and discussing the final and eighth 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 few weeks and would love you to join in with your reflections in the comments section.

Chapter Eight: Sacred Conversations – The Sanctuary of Serving Others

Entering the Sanctuary of Serving Others

  • Darian tells the story of a doing some service work in college and the lesson she learned:
  • we receive “in our service far more than we [give]” p. 129

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Serving Others

  • home is the place where attitude is formed
  • children learn about acts of generosity and service through experience and watching these values become a part of their daily life
  • Family teaches us the true meaning of Servanthood
  • Keep our hearts and minds open to opportunities where we can help while still maintaining balance at home (especially with young children)

Seeking Wisdom in Serving Others

  • Young children shouldn’t be overburdened with worldly problems or solutions at young ages- better to learn about the world in a developmentally appropriate way
  • “Our fears of the future often lead us to expose children to adult issues long before they have the ability to assimilate these issues in meaningful and helpful ways” p.133
  • Encourage children to serve others within their circle (home for toddlers/lower grades; expanding to school, friends and community for middle and high school aged children)
  • Children can guide non-human communities eg. earth, plants, animals
  • Avoid television and media about “big issues”
  • Tell children about issues that need attention but work on them little by little (eg. Turn the tap off when brushing teeth, pick up trash together at the beach, etc.)
  • Balance serious issues with fun and humour – how can community service be fun? (eg. Weaving mats from milk bag plastic)
  • Try to live by example – how do your lifestyle and consumer habits reflect your values and service to others (eg. fairtrade).
  • Darian recommends The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones

Welcoming Diversity in Our Lives

  • Begin to foster in our children a sense that they are global citizens
  • tolerance for other races, religions, abilities, lifestyles and economic classes through making our schools more integrated, attending culturally based performances, reading multi-cultural books or learning about a range of cultural celebrations- these gestures can shatter stereotypes about those who are “different from us”

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Serving Others

  • Take time to acknowledge and appreciate acts of service within your family
  • Hold annual or seasonal get-togethers with your neighbours to foster a sense of connection and servitude with and for each other
  • Keep your eye out for opportunities to serve those in your community- bring friends soup if they are all home sick, offer neighbours help with their yard work, bring new mothers food or offer to clean or do some laundry for them
  • Create a family wall or like- posting photos of people we believe are in our larger ‘family circle’
  • “Enough, if something from our hands have power. To live, to act, to serve the future hour” – William Wordsworth
  • Set aside a small portion of children’s weekly allowance for charitable organizations
  • Identify songs of service that are about sharing your Divine Light with others and bring them into your home

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only

  • In order to have the reserves to open ourselves to the larger community, our inner work and personal renewal must be a strong part of our own daily rhythm
  • “We have little room in our lives for others because we have so little room for ourselves”  p.143
  • Taking some moments each day to connect to a Higher Power and to feel gratitude is enough to really fill us up each day
  • Our daily actions of kindness, love and empathy are far greater reaching than a single act of philanthropy
  • “Service to the larger world begins and ends in that still, small place within” p. 144

Service is something I am very conscious about brining to my children and I am more aware that while they are very little, it is in my own acts of generosity and kindness within our small community that my children will see and feel the blessing of being able to serve. This year we went at Christmas time I felt my eldest were old enough to come with me to help sort at a toy drive. They enjoyed getting out and meeting new people and feeling part of a community that was helping. That said, still so much of what they experience as ‘charitable’ are the little acts of kindness that they see within their home and school community. Mother Theresa once said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” I could not agree more. Start in your home with acts of service and slowly work your way out into the larger world.

How is the Sanctuary of Serving Others present in your home? And how do you strike that fine balance between giving to those around you and giving enough to yourself?

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.

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