It’s a beautiful, early spring morning. Father Sun shines brightly overhead and the sky is a lovely shade of robin’s egg blue. The air is fresh and crisp following on the heels of a very rainy, stormy day experienced the day before. I am sitting outside in the play yard, quietly observing three children at play…a 4-1/2 yr. old boy, a 3-1/2 year old boy, and a 2-1/2 year old girl. They’ve each chosen a favorite container and are industriously scooping rainwater out of the sandbox. Conversation ensues among them as they carry on with their good work. I hear the eldest boy remark, “We need “access”…we need more “access”, as he uses his strong arms to move wheelbarrows, shovels and other outdoor toys out of the way, clearing a path in which to reach other rain puddles to scoop out of the sandbox. He uses this newly discovered word several more times throughout the rest of outdoor playtime. As I continue to observe, I hear a lone bird in the distance, singing his morning song. All is calm and peaceful. After scooping most of the water out of the sandbox, each child picks up a shovel and begins digging in the cool, moist earth. One of them gleefully calls out to me, “We’re making mud!” They are reveling in pouring water onto the earth and creating mud puddles in which to exuberantly stomp in, happy to be allowed to participate in such an activity because they are wearing all of their rain gear. Another child makes his way closer to where I’m sitting, where he spies a small log. He begins pouring his newly made “mud” over it. I take note that I have not had to interrupt their play to help settle any disagreements or redirect play, as they are intent on the “work” at hand. Soon, other caregivers and children begin to join us. All promptly get busy with different tasks. One little guy finds a log and drapes himself over it and with his stomach and legs gently rolls the log back and forth. As the play yard hums with purposeful activity and conversations, I think to myself, “Ahhh…just another typical day at LifeWays.” And then I think to myself, “We are so very blessed.”
Before heading inside to prepare for lunchtime activities, I take my little ones on a short hike. As we descend the big hill, they ask, “Where are we going?” “What are we doing?” “Hmmmm,” I thoughtfully respond, “you shall see.” I stay quiet on our hike, observing Mother Earth as she begins to awaken from her deep slumber. I take note that the grasses are once again turning a bright shade of green and many tiny flowers with purple petals have emerged, gracing the forest floor and hillside. These changes do not go unnoticed by my young charges. As they follow me along the nature path, I can hear one say, “These flowers are making me want to pick one.” He says this again, more in a questioning manner, and I realize that he is asking permission before going ahead and picking one. I gently reply that they are, indeed, lovely to look at, but we must not pick them, as they do not belong to us but to Mother Earth. He seems to accept this answer as he bends down to take a closer look at the tiny flowers with the purple petals.
As we continue winding along the path, climbing the hill to return to the building to prepare for our lunchtime activities, my heart fills with gratitude, and I breathe a deep sigh, thinking to myself, “Ahhh…after all of the journeying and learning I’ve experienced since leaving LifeWays the first time, I’ve come home.”