Why do I get so much joy and satisfaction watching my children play in nature? It is something I have wondered about myself. One of my favorite activities. I like to play with them in nature, but honestly, I like sitting back and watching them even more. I struggle here, to put it into words.
I use the term ‘my children’ loosely as I have taken on 18 other children each week out in the woods. Watching children in deep play outdoors is something I love. Why?
Freedom? I know that when they are unencumbered, outside and unstructured they are free. Maybe it is the sitting back that is so rewarding. I move out of their way. I step back from the telling and the teaching, and create a sacred space for their freedom to step forward. I love watching where they take it. There is a deep sense of peace that descends on a creek when children become engrossed in what they and the creek decide to do together. Two puzzle pieces, the creek and the children, fitting together perfectly and suddenly it all makes sense. Freedom is definitely an essential ingredient. Yet…
Wild is the other.
When children set out on their own adventure into wilderness, they are seeking a relationship. They are looking for connection with each other and me. But deeper than that, they are seeking connection with the wild. They know on some soul level that when they find that tadpole and hold it in their hands, it was created in just that way, at just that moment, just for them. When they are mining for gold in the creek and they find a ‘crystal’, they believe that rock was put there at that moment in time, just for them. When they sit in their secret hide out, hidden from the rest of us, they are not alone. They know that this secret spot was created around them, for them. They don’t seek connection with the man made bridge, as much as, they are drawn to what is flowing and growing and swimming and winding beneath it. The wild.
Two weeks ago when a pouring rain just happened to find us outside looking for adventure, they embraced it as the gift it was. How could this not have been created just for them? The joy as they received this gift however they chose, was something I will never forget. Standing back and watching them dance with the wild was my joy.
They went home high.
The next day I heard reports of “the best day ever”. One child told his special grownup that it was “the best day of his life”. Then he changed his mind. “It is the second best day of my life. The best day was the day I was born.”
I watch this and I remember. I remember what I was born knowing and then forgot. I remember my own freedom dancing with the wild. I seek relationship with What created the wild. I catch a glimmer of conversation with my Creator.
The Forgotten Path. Children are born into the world knowing this path. It is not forgotten for them. By protecting space for them to play on their own path, I remember. They are my guides. They teach me how to recall all that I know. It is as much for me as for them.