This week I’ve spent the mornings teaching my annual kids’ yoga summer camp at Desert Song Healing Arts Center. It’s my sixth year of teaching the camp and although it’s a lot to juggle my work at the Seed with five mornings of kids’ yoga, I’ve managed to make it work. I choose to write about it on my Seed blog since over half of the fifteen children attending are from the Seed. It’s always fun to experience them in a different setting and I attribute some of the events of this week to their presence in the group. Our theme for the week is “The Web of Life: A Yoga Study of Interconnection,” based on these words attributed to Chief Seattle: “This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.”
During the week we practice yoga, learn to breathe and relax, read theme-related stories, make art, learn to get along, and perform a play based on one of the stories of the week. This year’s book is Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer, the story of a girl who helps people and the planet by sharing her passion for worm farming. It’s a sweet story about a smart girl who uses her brain and determination to get what she needs, a new wagon. We make a list of the characters in the book and each child has a chance to request his or her first two choices for roles. Anyone can try out for any part. The auditions consist of a chance to read a brief section of the script in front of the rest of the group. After all auditions are completed, each child privately casts a vote for the preferred actor. Actors and actresses are allowed to vote for themselves.
This year five children auditioned for Winnie Finn, including an intensely quiet, reflective child who surprised me even by her request to try out for the part. Several of the other children who auditioned had animated, expressive voices and I have to admit, I assumed one of them would be selected. The universe had another plan. In the end, when the votes were tallied, our quiet little actress had accumulated the most votes. I was pleasantly astounded and deeply happy for this child. I also learned a big lesson. Children see things differently than we do and there are profound life lessons available if we listen and pay attention to their perspectives. In this case, I believe that they saw something, a potential, perhaps, that I might have missed had I not given them the chance to offer their opinions. Their vision of what is possible opened up a new view for me.
Tomorrow we will perform our play for parents and family members about a warm, friendly girl who loves earthworms. It may not be the most polished performance, given we’ve put it together in four days, but it will be a performance with heart. I will remember the brave child who stepped out of her comfort zone and into the role of Winnie Finn. I will also recall the cast who supported her, seeing beyond what I could see, giving her this opportunity of a lifetime. And each time I uncover an earthworm in my garden, I’ll think of Winnie Finn.