Weaving Life's Journey, Second Edition

By Betty Staley   |   Rudolf Steiner College Press   |   2011

Our lives are embedded in a process of time, so that we undergo change from one phase to another. Using this book, adults can recognize patterns in their lives. By reading a variety of individuals’ experiences as they move through the phases helps us gain perspective on our own lives.

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Since the publication of Tapestries in 1997 much has happened in the world and in our individual lives, and it became obvious that I needed to update the entire book. We have been living in extraordinary times in which time seems to speed up. The interviews I did in 2010 and 2011 have a different quality from those I did between 1994 and 1997. In addition to the kinds of individual changes one would expect after about fifteen years, they also reflect significant changes in society itself – in family structure, the influence of technology, a greater global awareness, and more individual freedom. This societal shift is dealt with in detail in the book. – Betty Staley, from the preface.

I have also learned not to be so straightforward as I used to be. Rather  I think about what my part is if there are difficulties with people. I am so grateful to Harry. He gave me part of his life. We stay in touch. I want to be an educated person in my next life. I enjoy people who can think and have knowledge. That would be a joy.  – From an interview with an 80-year-old.

Texting is extremely common and very useful. In many situations it would be rude to be on the phone, but you can easily text and take care of whatever problem arises. If you are leaving a party and want to communicate with a friend, you would move your thumbs which  means ‘text me.’ You are always accessible by texting, and on one hand it is an obligatory social form of communication and yet it allows for spontaneity. We don’t plan things. It all gets worked out by texting each other. On the other hand, it is a form of hyper-stimulation. I hate getting messages at 3 a.m.’ – From an interview with a 23-year-old

When Stewart Easton introduced me to the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), I found something deeper, something I could take seriously. I considered graduate school, but at that time the choice was between behaviorism (the work of B.F. Skinner) and extrasensory perception Jung was a name I heard whispered about, but it was not well known. What I found in Steiner’s insights were keys that could open whole new expanses of understanding. At first I found it difficult to understand his ideas, especially as related to spirit. But as I worked with these new ideas, I valued what he offered more and more. I particularly appreciated his insistence on freedom of thought; his work was offered to stimulate our research, not to be believed. That suited my rebellious nature.

Those keys of insight have inspired me for the past fifty years to continue my search, to familiarize myself with new and exciting works of psychologists, philosophers, and historians who were seeking to understand the human condition. I found fellow travelers along the way. I applied my research to the understanding of children as a teacher of children and adolescents and to the understanding of adult development through my years in adult education. Through all those experiences, the keys of insight I had met in Rudolf Steiner’s approach continued to be the main force expanding my understanding.

Tapestry weaving, in which the warp and the weft combine to reveal pattern and meaning, can express something about our life journey. We are born into a physical body with its magnificent design of skeletal structure, muscles, organs, hormones, senses, and nervous system. We are received into a family with complex interrelationships of sisters, brothers, mother and father. Our soul unfolds as we live in the world and meet other people.  Our lives are embedded in a process of time, so that we undergo change from one phase to another, experience soul struggles. By the fact of being born to a particular set of parents, certain things are given to us such as our gender, nationality, race, and physical constitution. Our of the interaction between our higher self, or individuality, and our physical body, our temperament arises, expressing itself in our gesture toward life. As we come into adolescence, we develop soul attitudes with which we focus our attention and relate to the inner and outer world. As we develop through the life stages, our “I” has the possibility to transform our personality.