Earth who gives us all this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dearest Earth and Dearest Sun
We will not forget what you have done.

I decided to try out an A.L.M. Writes prompt for today’s post, and for May 18th the word is “Reverence”. This word is timely for me. The concept of reverence has been on my mind, stemming mainly from a parent evening on the role of Christianity in Waldorf education.

I love Waldorf education – no need to go on and on about that here – and one of the aspects I love most is the thorough study of world religions, both historic and present. The curriculum does not provide a Christian religious education, but it was developed by a Christian philosopher, and the concept of reverence, especially for nature, is woven into all subject matter.

The question I have been turning over in my mind as I think about the role of religion in Waldorf education is, where is the line between reverence and worship? I am comfortable with reverence. I am not comfortable with worship.

Reverence is defined as deep respect for someone or something. Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. So it seems to me that the underlying feeling or act of reverence and worship is the same, but in the case of worship, it is directed towards a deity. 

What is a deity, then? In addition to the typical “god or goddess” definition, deity can also mean “one exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful”.

I don’t personify the sun, water or Earth, but I would categorize them as supremely good and powerful. They are good in the sense that they allow for life; yet they hold amazing power, both constructive and destructive. In other words, I find in them that same balance of good and evil that exists within every society… and every human.

Therefore, the fine line between reverence and worship hinges on whether the sun, for example, can be characterized as a deity.

I love the simplicity of the snack time verse our children brought home from school; it has also become our dinner blessing. We feel it is important to teach our children respect for nature and gratitude for all that we have.

But I’m not sure if our blessing is an expression of reverence or worship.