Once upon a time, childhood took place outside

Once upon a time, childhood took place outside… This rings so true! Growing up in Bulgaria, we always had a garden plot in the city, a vineyard near the city, and orchard and vegetable gardens in both villages I spent time — where my mom and my dad were born. My interactions with the gardens were so natural that even when it felt like work, it was always enjoyable.  Going to the garden plot to pick your own tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley for the lunch salad gives you not only a taste for how good natural food can be but also how good having your fingers dig in the soil can be.

Now living in a major city I have a challenge of influencing the choices of how my children grow up despite the limited time I have with them.  I am no longer welcome at the garden I helped build for them at the house they live so helping there is not an option anymore. I did apply for a garden plot with Arlington County but there is waiting list so I am not holding my breath. I do plan on starting a vegetable garden on my vast balcony. I even brought some rare seeds from Bulgaria, so this should be a fascinating experiment.

So many things in life we appreciate only when we don’t have them anymore. I clearly remember how much I yearned for a garden when I was in the army and for the first time I did not have my gardening weekends. Then the spring came and we were given orders to help clean up a military hospital’s park — ah the joy of being close to the soil and brushes during early spring time.

As we are getting ready for the first day of Spring, and the Baha’i New Year, I am contemplating how to make my life ever more balanced through harmony with nature, and how to give example of my loved ones of the joy nature can give.

Of course gardening is only one way of being in touch with nature. Hiking is another one of my nurturing passions which I do not get to satisfy as often as I wish. Combining any of those with the time spent with beloved kids is surely a joyous and noble endeavor.

A friend of mine, Todd Christopher, just published a book on that exact important topic — of encouraging kids to play outside, in nature. Here is an eloquent video promoting the book, “The Green Hour”:

The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids by Todd Christopher from Todd Christopher on Vimeo.

I just bought my copy of the book at Borders. It is a very nice, full of practical ideas and at $18 won’t break your budget. It is available on Amazon too for $12.11.  Whether you buy it or not, I hope you get to spend more time outside with some kids you love! The spiritual fruits might be even more abundant than the physical ones:

Praise be unto God! who hath created sanctified souls, illumining them with the reflections of the Sun of Truth, and raising certain persons for the service of the Kingdom and gardening in the divine orchard. I hope thou wilt become a fruitful tree producing sweet fruits. Trust thou in the bounties of God and engage thyself in His service.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 506)

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