Learning from Laughter: Beside the Beaver’s Dam

DSC00655“I love nature. Nature is cool. The forest is my classroom. The earth is my school. Trees are my teachers. Animals are my friends. And on this school all life depends.” Joe Reilly, I Love Nature

Isaac tiptoes through the forest, climbing over fallen branches and stopping to smell each flower. We follow behind delighting in the comfort he finds in the place. Down the hill and around the bend of the stream, we walk the deer’s path honoring their daily wisdom and knowledge of this wood. It leads to an old oak fallen and resting in the moving waters. We climb down on the bank pausing to admire and learn the look of the deer’s foot prints. Erinn climbs up on the old tree finding a place to rest. Isaac runs to the edge of the stream gathering rocks. He holds these old fossils in his hands and throws them under the branch his mama sits on laughing in delight at the splash. Isaac asks us to take off his shoes and socks. He steps into the cold water sinking his toes into the decomposing muck below.

Beyond the fallen tree, there are sticks and leaves that slow down the water’s flow at this bend, cleansing the water and helping to hold water on these banks. These fallen forest pieces are not casually landed here, but deliberately placed by the creature that tends this watershed.

The light trickles through the trees bouncing off the water. We stay here for a long time. We are in holy space. A high leafed sanctuary holds onto us here reminding us of the sacredness of earth’s beauty and calling us to come and be a part of it. I give thanks for Isaac’s easiness here- his delight and his wonder. These rocks under his feet have held a long history and he now becomes a part of it. We listen to the birds call and hear the frogs out of site jump into the stream. We keep a hopeful eye out for the nose of a beaver peeking out. For these moments, we have entered into a local community of life’s diversity. My eyes linger on Isaac imagining the learning that is happening at this young age that will feel like wisdom he has always known. I give thanks for this gift of parenting which calls me to slow down, to follow, and to listen. It has brought me to this place where the three of us join an ancient liturgy.

As the light beckons us home, Isaac climbs up the branches and I hold his hand as he travels up the hill on the old trunk which is returning to the earth giving gifts of creaturely homes, rich soil, an edge of a beaver’s damn, and today a new adventure for this kind two year old. Way above my head, he reaches the end of the tree and jumps into my arms. I place him back on the deer path. We head home with our hearts filled and our spirits changed.

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