Sunday, May 26, 2013

Empowering Play

So many are now earning political points by asking , "What world are we leaving to our children?" We would be better off asking, "What world are we now offering our children, and the children of others?"

What we have to offer our earth is our time and our attention to the tiny details of life. Only by slowing down and being fully in each moment do we come to appreciate anything, and only in this aware way can we pass on our ethics of what is important. Are we even overloading ourselves with children to where we have no time for each of them as a uniquely gifted (and challenged) individual?

Observing the universe without disturbing it is the only way to learn the true nature of a person, place, or thing. How many of us are willing to observe without adding our input? How many of us actually want to know The Sacred Spirit of anything on earth?

When my grandson was a toddler, he ran to touch the big red ball, as he called the setting sun. In his beautiful baby mind, he was absolutely certain this could be done with his tiny reaching hand. Perhaps he will be a cosmologist and learn to actually touch the sun. He loved listening to the seagulls, and would turn to me and say, "Listen, Granny, the seagulls are laughing." It turns out that they are called "laughing gulls." Perhaps he will grow up to be an ornithologist and identify species of birds. This is the magic in a child's heart that we attempt to explain away with our greater "knowledge." Parents are to assist them in learning, not squelch their curiosity and wonder with our limiting "facts."

Why must we always choreograph every moment of our lives and those of the world's children? Would we be wiser to learn attentive appreciation from them? A small child needs nothing more to play happily than his or her own powers of observation and his or her own imagination, with inclusion in our work. Most of what I know of The Sacred Spirit, I learned watching small children simply live.

Touching the warm, wet earth and tasting blades of grass are too often interrupted by an adult's disgust or calls of danger. Can we not teach them science as easily by letting them experience it out in the fields among nature or in the great science labs of our own kitchens? And wouldn't the questions they asked bear more interesting answers that what some scientist put in a dusty book?

Some of the most remarkable memories I made with my children and grandchildren were catching, growing, and cooking our food, building a brick and board bookcase, painting a door, and identifying edible wild plants. In each endeavor, we all learned much from each other and from the effort itself, not the least of which was cooperation and appreciation.

To watch as a child learns is the best way that I have come to know what's sacred. Unchain them from their desks. Help them plant a field or milk a cow while we teach them about what they ask. Teach them to count as they walk beside you, carrying groceries or laundry. Let them learn colors from the earth's beauty. Help them play at important empowering work for themselves. The lessons will be forever placed in their very spirits, not only in their brains. That on which we expend our energy, we won't soon allow to be destroyed. Stop protecting them from what is most precious in life, wonder at being open to whatever is happening around us, in the here and now, and their power to affect it.

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