Like most people I’ve talked with lately, my heart feels immensely heavy. It’s the news, the level of stress we all live with, and the fact that it’s past mid-October and it continues to be over 100 at lunch recess. We have such easy lives compared to many, and it’s still a lot. I take deep breaths, keep showing up each day, and practice focused listening every opportunity I have. I keep looking for the small reminders that life is still good.
The Seed playground is a limitless source of such small reminders. This week’s was a spontaneous project created by a group of first graders. Very few words were spoken about it, but the layers of meaning were many. I approached the group and asked what was happening in their chosen spot in the dirt. One of the children replied, “It’s a cricket workshop. We spend time with them and then let them go.” Their few words spoke volumes.
Currently I’m working on a project for our social justice website. It’s a graphic of a sunflower with each petal representing an element that makes the Seed what it is. The roots represent what we do to cultivate and sustain each element. Eventually the graphic will be featured on our website with a live link to each element. The link will have a photo and description of how each element is expressed at our school. As I thought about the cricket workshop, I realized how many elements were present in that one small activity. Here are a few examples:
- respect (for other species)
- planetary stewardship
Driven by their curiosity, they worked as a small community to create a safe space to study and be with crickets. They were respectful and compassionate to the small creatures, careful to release them when they were finished with their observations.
This is one tiny example of the kind of work children do when given the guidance and space to interact with the natural environment, particularly when they are also daily reminded to be compassionate, kind planetary citizens. Stories like this won’t have an immediate effect on the tenuous condition of our planet, but I have to hope that these seeds of compassion and innovation will make a collective difference in the long run. When kindness to crickets is embedded in childhood, perhaps it will carry over to more expansive projects as students become the adults of tomorrow. I may not see its full manifestation in my lifetime, but I plan to keep at it as long as I can, in hopes that someday compassion will be the norm.