What do the children need? Cat Stevens sings, “where do the children play?” Do they even play? Have we lost what it means to be a child? He continues, “I know we’ve come a long way, but tell me where do the children play?” “We you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?” They’re trying. Children need a sense of freedom. Children need the outdoors, they need fresh air, lots of trees to climb and sticks to build with. Children need open fields to run freely in and forests to stimulate their creativity and stoke their imaginations. To see a child in a field of wildflowers, open space all around, blue sky, green trees and multicolored flowers to light up the senses. Amongst the cities we’ve built up, up and way up, these forests and urban gardens provide the respite, quietude and solace our souls seek. Here our bodies, minds and hearts inch toward wholeness. Here we cultivate the inner being and if we stay long enough just might find we are more present. These places abound all around us. We might have to drive to find them but usually we can step out of doors and find beautiful flowers, trees, birds, blue sky, bright sunshine. There is a new pyramid called the nature pyramid Florence Williams writes about in her book, The Nature Fix. The bottom layer is the nature we see daily, the trees, birds, sky, flowers and such, next is weekly where we might take a drive to a park or forest, then monthly we might visit a national park for a weekend and finally we might take a yearly or bi-yearly where we stay for a week at a time. It’s a nice visual to keep in mind as we incorporate more nature into our lives. Nature stimulates creativity, strengthens our immune system, brings more oxygen to our lungs and allows for more carbon dioxide to be eliminated from our systems.
What do the children need? What do we all need? We need to get back to the basics of life. Good healthy unprocessed food, fresh air, space to run freely and imaginatively in community with each other. We need to break bread together, walk together, sit and talk and pass the time together without our busyness permeating our minds. What is so important that precludes meeting a friend for a visit? We are so good at creating a life full of busyness. It makes us feel not only important but useful, engaged, attentive. We have lost our way as we see when we visit a foreign country and wonder how the people have so much time to sit with friends and sip tea or coffee or share a conversation over a glass of wine. We marvel at the sense of leisure which they approach their daily lives and stand in awe of what takes priority in their lives. How, I wondered, are the people in Italy not agitated at having to wait a long time for a bus to come or to get into a restaurant for pizza on a Friday night? They manage by engaging in conversation with each other. Would we be so nonplussed here in the United States. I think not. We are the mice spinning on our own individual wheels thinking we are getting somewhere, yet going nowhere. Are people in these foreign countries all the more wiser? They definitely are more filled with a sense of peace as they also navigate the chaotic terrain of a life in the twenty-first century. We are all one humanity walking through this life. Shall we embrace each other or shun each other. The mask does not help bring us closer. The virus separates us. We need to work harder to find ways to be in community, to reach out to each other. We are comrades on the path. Let’s share it as we walk together.