The Fountain of Youth

I try to consider all of life a teacher, but if I haven't gotten the point across yet, children hold a special place in the classroom of my world.

Sometimes I don't know what I want to write on the blog, but eventually an idea comes together. On Friday, I read a few lines about kids in a book I am reading. I have had some great encounters with kids at daycare, and then I went to a running list of ideas that I keep for the blog, and one entry I saw was this poem. (You Should Avoid Young Children by Claire Keyes)

Because they fill their diapers
with reliable ease, sitting on your lap
or spread out on your best mattress.
Guilt is as foreign to them as vichyssoise.

Because they spread sticky fingers
over the piano keys, looking for you
to hoist them onto your lap. They slam
the ivories for the racket they can make.
Re-think your nap.

Because they are blank slates
on which so much waits to be written,
their eyes opened wide to take everything in,
including the lines around your eyes,
the pouches under your chin.

Because they manipulate the controls
on the TV, finger the holes in the electric socket,
stomp the cat’s switching tail only to smile
and gaze at you as if you held the keys to joy.

Because you can embrace them, but
you can’t bind them. Because they have nothing
to give you—and everything. Because
something loosens when they come around.
Something opens you didn’t know was shut.

I knew I would be writing about kids today. This week we end our winter season at SBC before the migrant season begins again after two weeks of in-service. We will say goodbye to a few kids in our classroom and welcome in some new faces.

The book I am reading is called The Four Agreements. The author uses Toltec wisdom to describe how we enter into the dream of the planet, which humans have created and which separates us from the true nature of life. In this dream we make assumptions, take things personally, use words to hurt, and settle for less than our best. But, the author, Don Miguel Ruiz, says that children are examples of what it looks like to live free from the dream.

If we see a child who is two or three, perhaps four years old, we find a free human. Why is this human free? Because this human does whatever he or she wants to do. The human is completely wild. Just like a flower, a tree, or an animal that has not been domesticated - wild! And if we observe humans who are two years old, we find that most of the time these humans have a big smile on their face and they're having fun. They are exploring the world. They are not afraid to play. They are afraid when they are hurt, when they are hungry, when some of their needs are not met, but they don't worry about the past, don't care about the future, and only live in the present moment.

I have much to learn from the children. One of my favorite things to witness is how they bounce back after being upset. You simply hug them, give them a new toy, and their attention is diverted. If only it were that easy! So, if you'll excuse me, I will be busy rolling around on the floor with some little beings this week, learning so, so much about what it means to truly live as a human.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

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