“Who am I?”
“What is the purpose of life?”
“What brings me joy?”
“What are my gifts?”
“What really matters?”
“What do I know for certain?”
“What is it to belong?”
“What is it to love?”
To nurture the Heart and Creativity of children, we must travel down the moonlit forest path of inquiry asking ourselves the eight questions listed above. These are not questions many of us were encouraged to explore, and so the path may seem dark, strange and unfamiliar. And yet, what are the consequences of a society that only travels 100 feet, a few yards, or stops at the trailhead? How might our reticence impact how we perceive ourselves, life, how we treat children, what we deem as being important? And what could change if we did commit courageously to the path? What’s possible? What might we discover?
How we perceive and treat children reflects how we perceive and treat ourselves. We can only take a child down the path as far as we are willing to travel ourselves. And we can only follow them as far as our courage will take us. As soon as their imagination, silliness, curiosity, desire or movement becomes too wild, too unruly, we may get scared, turn around, and drag them back to the busy, orderly roads where we think they should be—where reality is; where we feel safe.
The forest path holds little promise for those not encouraged to travel it. Without passage, the trail of exploring these eight vital questions becomes hidden with overgrowth, forgotten in favor of the preferred convenient well-tread route our parents and teachers knew, and thought best for us. This is the great loss of our society—the loss of our wild, unbounded Self, and the gifts within.
“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.” ~ Albert Einstein
If children are to birth something new into the world it will need to come from the forest. Their longing, and that of the world’s, is fulfilled not on the cracked asphalt of yesterday’s stories, but beyond the threshold of conformist culture. And for children to retrieve and explore their gifts, you will need to be there with them, following them, guiding them into the bush to help them find their passions, and when they are ready—perhaps when they are in their teens—hone their purpose so they can share their inherent bounty with the world.
First, however, you will need to walk the moonlit path of inquiry into your own Heart.
But be prepared: the path is moonlit for a reason. It is dark, and you may encounter a few ghosts hiding behind the trees, a few barking beasts of the night. You may walk face to face with the very reason why you fear traveling the path in the first place—the unknown; your vulnerability; the wounded child within who lost his innocence; your overwhelming grief; your world questioned and lost; your wild, raw, untamed nature born.
Be aware of the impulse to turn around and pull the child back. You may be halting the child’s passage more for you than her! The child does not fear the trail, for she is the boundless forest itself. She feels it. It is her playground, and yours. She knows the wild landscape of sadness and delight, anger and dreams, dark and light far better than you. She is, as some have said, closest to God.
So commit to the path. Dunk your busy mind under the moon. Feel the stirrings of your untamed nature in the leaves, the roar of the black bear, the purr of the distant river. Let the spirit of the land reclaim you, and reverberate in your ancient bones.