Friday, July 19, 2013

Giving Children Something Real in an Imaginative Way

Our children are drenched in entertaining media, yet one truth remains: children love to play and imagine but they also crave what is real.  They don't wait for the "realism" stage of their artistic development at age nine to be intensely captivated by the natural world.  Tiny children want to examine bugs and touch, smell and taste fresh vegetables from the garden.  They want to play in mud and run barefoot in the grass.  At the same time, they want to wish on stars and climb on the tops of puffy clouds.  Engaging and interacting with all that is seasonal, temporal, biological is what they love the best.  Pretend is important.  Play is essential.  But direct contact with what is living, breathing and changing lights up something inside us, no matter our age or intelligence.  In a climate of virtual imagery, what is real becomes sacred and magical.

In the tiny space of ten years, the Greensboro Science Center has grown from a setting of indoor labs and a small petting farm to include an outdoor zoo with tigers to an impressive and stunning aquarium. This magical new addition has become the hot spot for families in the Triad.  This incredible learning environment sits adjacent to The National Military park and is within biking distance from our home.  This year we bought a family membership and have been richly rewarded with each visit.  Elliot has benefited from direct contact with a variety of creatures and the long conversations he has with scientists and keepers.  Here are a few shots of our recent visit:

The Greensboro Science Center gives our children something real in an imaginative way.  It teaches through curiosity, wonder and feelings.  It celebrates our desire to be close to other species while technology seems to separate us further.

We are thrilled to experience the gift of this learning environment so close to our home.  I've overheard some visitors comment on the small size of the Sciquarium, but having lived here for a decade, I know what it was like in it's humble beginning.  What they have done with this limited space is phenomenal. 

And so it happened that while we were simply living here, often completing our our daily chores with a mundane attitude or quietly sitting with our books, someone was building something incredible behind the scenes.  During our trips to the grocery store, the library and the park,  we were not expecting what was on the horizon.  We weren't thinking of the waves of wonderful that could come into our lives through no effort of our own.

The power of positive intention is evidenced in the beautifully real experiences that continually arrive as gifts.  We didn't have to work for them, but the gifts are still coming.  Every day there are new seeds of hope and promise and growth all around us.  Contemplating this, I'm reminded of Fraz Kafka's popular quote:

"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."


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