ChildrenHope27.1.2019

Adapted from Hunt, R. A. E. Seasons and Self: Discourses on Being ‘at home’ in Nature


CHILDREN: THE GENESIS OF HOPE…

“Wonder rises up when we become identified with our vast and infinitesimal context,
and experience ourselves as expressions of the same processes
we observe around us”
(Paul Fleischmann 2013)


A woman living in the slum area of a large city
was asked by a news reporter what hope she has, living as she must.
        She points to her children: “They are my hope,” she says. (Alves 2011)

oo0oo

Today we celebrate Children’s Sunday as part of Education Week.
Already we have heard several stories of their own experiences…
from a student,
a teacher,
a former head master
and an assistant principal.

And like many other grand parents, we attended
‘Open Day’ at our grand daughter’s school.

Small cup-cakes were made for our morning tea.
We were shown artwork plus given a tour of the library.
And the principal gave an address on the future of education

Education is important: be it for adults or children.
So I want to add to those comments already
by offering a few suggestions I have discovered
        as a parent and grand parent, and
        learned from others.

For there is also much we could learn from a closer observation of children.

oo0oo

A child explores the world with true wonder
long before she understands what the adults mean by ‘holy’.

A child does not need to be told in solemn pious tones
‘only God can make a tree’ before discovering the God-given thrill
        of climbing it,
        feeling its rough bark against her hands and face,
        sensing the joy of a new experience.

Out of such experiences in the life of a child
comes a quickened sense of self-worth,
        which has important ramifications
        for all relationships with other persons.

Perhaps this is why the peasant sage called Jesus/Yeshu’a
was also so affirming of children.

So in the spirit of this celebration this morning
I want to invite you to come on a journey of re-imagination.

We have heard from the story of creation (Genesis Chapter 1)…
Remembering that story, let us now re-imagine it
        not as a mythical story of the creation of the world,
        but as a mythical story of the creation of children.

All with the help of Sophia Lyon Fahs, Edith Hunter, plus friends named and unnamed,
who know a lot more about education than I do.
        To them I express my thanks and gratitude.

oo0oo

In a beginning…
At the start of every life, an environment must be created favourable to life.
Otherwise a child’s surroundings would have no form or shape
and would be empty and unoccupied.

• So we who know, must move over the face of such a world
to prepare it for a living child.

And G-o-d said: ‘Let there be light…’
All through their life, children will be faced with
a mixture of light and darkness.

The child comes from the darkness of the mother’s body into the world
where the light hurts its eyes.
But light is good for the baby
and all children must have lots of it all their life.

• We must see to it that the lights are turned on
so the child’s life will not be lived in the shadows of a darkened world.

And G-o-d said: ‘Let their be a dome…’
A child must have support when born,
just as the planets must be supported in the sky.

And even though a child’s prenatal experience
in the mother is a water event,
the actual birth sets the child upon the solid earth.

• This earth, its water and its atmosphere
will be the child’s home as long as the child lives.

And it is here, on earth, that the child must learn to live
just as other forms of life
live on the earth and in the sea.

Because this earth is the only one we have.

And G-o-d said: ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation…’
It is important a child be provided with a total environment
favourable to healthy development.

This means green grass, plants, trees,
and all kinds of fruit, for healthy nourishment.

A child’s life cannot mature properly
where the world of rivers, lakes and bush lands
        have been changed into
        asphalt and brick,
        polluted streams and
        poisoned foods.

• A total environment must be given every child
with nature’s surroundings at their finest and best.

And G-o-d said: ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures…
Every child needs to know animals,
what their kind is, and put a name on each,
as though each were a person.

And the child will have a ‘reverence for life’ - life of all kinds
for this is a part of the world of nature
and part of their own nature.

• We will need to relearn so we can teach
that the reverence for life makes no distinction
between more precious and less precious lives.

And G-o-d said: ‘Let us make humankind in our image…
A person is not ‘made’ all at once but is ‘grown’ from a baby.

Each child is born with a creative potential
which can only become known
as the child develops talents and abilities.

And while this earth and everything in it is the child’s domain,
each child must see to it that
the balance of nature is maintained;
food is provided for all earth’s people,
and life be made better for all living creatures.

• We must see to it that all children are given this birthright
and this heritage -
        to be able to live life fully, and
        to develop their capabilities to the fullest,
                ever mindful of the responsibilities,
                since we all walk this earth - its future in our hands.

The early stages of life are seldom entirely outgrown.
Rather, they become the platforms on which further stages of development are built.
        They must be supplemented by overlays of new levels of information
        that will shape the patterns of life.

So what this day celebrates is indeed important work!

oo0oo

Let us count it a privilege to walk with our children
and grandchildren,
our nieces and nephews.

Let us offer to shape their beliefs.
But always allow our beliefs to be reshaped by them.

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you
yet they belong not to you…” (Gibran 1926/1969:20)


The wise among us call that wisdom.
And let us enable our children to wonder…
“We are collections of long-nurtured solutions that have worked. It took a long time and a lot of editing to make every one of our molecules. As offspring of such a long streak of inspiring successes, let’s allow ourselves [and our children and grand children] just a brief, momentary, ‘Yeaaaay!’ (Fleischman 2013:255)

oo0oo

There is a beautiful poem I have discovered in one of the books
I brought back from England in 2005.

Let me share it will you now,
as it is a story to share with all children.

It is called: “A Short But True Story of You”.

You are made of star-stuff.
You are related to every other living thing on Earth.

You breathe out a gas that gives life to plants,
and plants breathe out a gas that gives life to you.

You are part of a wonderful web of life on a planet spinning in space.
When you die, someday, the elements of your body
will become a part of clouds and crystals,
seas and new living things.

You can think and wonder, love and learn.
You have the gift of life. (Anderson & Brotman 2004)

Let us remember all children and commit ourselves to
their growth and safety,
their health and education,
their uniqueness and
their unfolding beauty.


Notes:
Alves, R. Tomorrow's Child: Imagination, Creativity, and the Rebirth of Culture. Eugene. Wipf & Stock, 2011.
Anderson, L. & C. Brotman.
Kid’s Book of Awesome Stuff. Biddeford. Brotman Marsh-Field Curriculums, 2004.
Fleischman, P. R. 
Wonder: When and Why the World Appears Radiant. Amherst. Small Batch Books, 2013.
Gibran, K.
The Prophet. London. Heinemann, 1926/1969. 

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