Letter from Peter van Breda, Friday 1st May, 2020

Dear Friends,

I thought I’d dare to share a few thoughts on the situation in which we all find ourselves at present. None of us would have imagined even a couple of months ago that we would be sitting at home in a so-called lockdown situation with no firm guarantee when it will be lifted. Even if next week a partial lifting takes place we will have to conduct our lives in a very different kind of way. People speak of the ‘new normal’ as something sinister but whatever way we might want to judge it our life-style will change. As with everything in life there is a beginning, a middle and an end which usually bears within a new birth. I think we are probably slowly moving into the middle realm. A hundred and more scientists meet everyday searching for answers and trying to direct the government. Governments all over the world have never been put in such a position and are fully challenged to take the right steps. I feel we can have as many negative and positive points of view about politicians but the predicament we are now facing is new and is untraveled territory for us all. At stake is the precious lives of millions of people worldwide. Time will only tell as we count down the days in the hope of a return to a free democratic society.

So then what can we do in the meantime? What can we do already in anticipation of a light-filled sunrise waiting to dawn? Put differently, how can our daily lives be filled with courage and creativity?

Many people and definitely many of you have grasped that the cornerstone of a new tomorrow is our reaching out to family and friends and the greater world with a true sense of care and empathy. More than anything else our selfless deeds and thoughts will keep us buoyant and afloat. A sense of purpose begins to flame up in us as we make space for others.

There are some who are constantly looking for conspiracy theories, they often make strong judgements and declare this or that person or country are the cohorts of an advancing evil. That evil is in the world and is part of this devastating pandemic cannot be denied. I personally find getting lost in this kind of talk at this critical juncture is a waste of good time. Later when we have recovered a little from this strange onslaught will be time enough to investigate the far bigger questions. We are all novices at taking on a pandemic with such proportions. When we learn to first swim or to ride a bicycle we need time and practice; usually it is accompanied by pain and even the occasional tumble or breathless moment. It would seem to me that we need to strengthen ourselves both inwardly and outwardly, maybe begin to build so to speak a new house with new values, new aims and goals.

We need of course constantly to be aware of our emotional health and our daily balance. What I wish to suggest now are exercises we can practise or take on for the first time. Many of the things I will touch on you know already and are probably doing.

Let me start with a bold question; I wonder how many of you have ever read the New Testament from the 1st Chapter of St Mathew through to the last Chapter of the Book of the Revelation to St John? This can be an inspiring journey; you can for instance offer your daily reading to some loved one in the spiritual worlds.

Another worthwhile endeavour is to get to know a personality . One could choose someone like Joan of Arc or maybe an artist like Rembrandt or even Jesus of Nazareth. We research their destiny, their lives and deeds, we begin to understand them from a karmic standpoint and how they related to their time etc.

Spring is with us and we can step out of the house. Outside or also inside we choose a plant or a tree or an animal and with great reverence we approach them. We deepen our acquaintanceship, by exact observations, we sketch their shape and form, we listen to them and so much more. In the rhythms of time we learn to understand their essence and archetypal nature. We will begin to feel that our chosen tree or plant etc have become our friends, we have disenchanted them.

But what of those who are fascinated by history, it stands before as an open book. Through Anthroposophy we can begin to deepen and grasp history in completely new way. We learn to understand History through the rounds of time and the changing consciousness epochs. We learn to observe the spiritual interventions that have played such a decisive part in the forming of history.

One of our regular members is studying Ancient Greek with her husband to understand the bible more fully, learning something quite new can be both inspiring and fructifying.

I keep meaning to do another thing which is to sit down with a pen and paper and write a real letter once again.

This can lead to a question which is very good for us to put the older we become. Who in my life was truly important and who helped me on my way? Who on the other hand made my life difficult and caused me pain and what did I learn from them?

Some wise people say and I’m sure they are right that singing at least once a day is not only healing but also retains the bridge to the spiritual worlds. ( I’m not sure that singing rock ’n roll will do the trick but who am I to judge)

The reading of poetry and general literature goes without saying. We should not underestimate eurythmy as life support , even if we recall only one simple exercise.

Some find a soul diary each day helps, a paragraph suffices, describing how we have felt and moved through our day.

We come now come to furthering spiritual development through studying religious and spiritual content. Floris Books and Rudolf Steiner press have a large offering that can be ordered. Such a book can become our daily study material. ( we can easily have brochures sent to you to order books)

Our prayer life strives to become ever more intimate and immediate. We can take a verse or our crest and meditate upon its content. There are many other things like painting and cooking and playing an instrument and how about knitting. These kind of activities and inner work will see us through this middle sphere with a good portion of joy too.

I hope I have in some way been helpful, much of what I have said you know yourselves and are doing already, for any repetition I apologise.

Warm Greetings, Peter

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