Recently I attended a talk given by Richard Louv, author of Last Child In The Woods and The Nature Principle, whose work launched an international movement on reconnecting children to nature (he coined the term, Nature-Deficit Disorder). He voiced several times that he feels that connecting children (and ourselves as well) to nature is sacred work.
We as human beings are wired to be nourished by nature. We are wired to be creative in our minds and hearts, and in our actions when we have an intimate relationship with nature. We are wired to feel compassion, to be motivated to help others, to caretake our communities and our environment, to feel enlivened, at peace, and whole when we know ourselves to be interwoven with the natural world around us.
It’s part of our DNA. It’s integral to the human adventure on this planet that has gone on far, far, far longer than the tiny slice of time that is the “Information Age”, “Industrial Age”, or even Western Civilization.
It’s part of being in healthy, whole community with one another. It’s part of allowing the bright light that is our truest nature to shine, and our divine gifts to speak and move forth into the world.
When we adventure in nature’s magic with kids, we are feeding the souls of our children and ourselves on so many levels. Nature awakens abilities, perceptions, and insights in all of us that are truly wondrous in the context of today’s world. Nature heals and nature delights, and nature leads us down trails in our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives that we could never have predicted or planned.
What does it mean to adventure in nature’s magic with kids? Quite simply, it means to be curious and playful and childlike yourself. It’s to be willing to not have the answers and to not offer them. It’s to ask questions, and follow tracks, or explore that tunnel through the brambles. It’s to listen to that bird call and to feel in your heart what that Robin feels, and to imagine how a tree might actually walk through the woods (don’t scoff! I actually saw a “walking” tree in the woods when I was with a group of kids the other day!).
It means to remember the things you loved to do as a child, in the free, feral neighborhood outside play time that is all-too-rare for most kids today: to make fairy houses or forts, climb trees, make magic potions with plants, to craft a treasure hunt in the hedges for friends, to play in the mud, play hiding games in the shrubs, splash in the creek ….
Go outside with a child and surrender to play!
And in playing, begin to explore, discover, become silent and peaceful in your mind. Come to realize that – hey, isn’t that Robin Red Breast with the drooping white tail feather the same robin that visited the back patio yesterday?
And, hey, what might happen if we feed that red cedar tree a few of those huckleberries? I feel so good when I’m around that particular tree …. it just feels like I should do something beautiful and sweetly strange for it … like feeding the tree huckleberries.
Hey, maybe we could try making a fire with those dead branches and some dried grasses and scraped bark?
Outdoor play was one way our people for eons learned how they were part of all things, and how they could be well, not just in terms of survival, but in terms of spirit. It’s how children knew they were held – by each other, by Mother Earth, by the animals and birds and plants and trees around them, by their communities in ever-expanding rings.
We can relearn this too as we play outside with kids and adventure in nature’s magic.
It’s sacred work.
It’s sacred play.
Won’t you join me in having fun in nature with kids?
Here are some ideas for what you might notice when you adventure in nature’s magic with kids:
Signs Of Spring – a “lesson plan” (really, a bundle of ideas and inspiration) for adventuring in nature’s magic with kids in the Northeast of the year.
Chickens Have A Language Too! – what is bird language, and how to begin exploring it in your own backyard
Return To Acorn To Oak: Feb 2014 – Contents