Attitudes to Take With You
As you visit and explore a Special Place, it is important to take the following attitudes with you:
- It’s not only where you go to explore, it’s how you go
- It’s not only what you do at the site, it’s how you do it
- Leave your hurry at home
- Go with a sense of play and exploration
- Encourage your child’s sense of wonder
- Follow the child’s lead
Children are blessed with a sense of wonder, but all too often it gets lost among the demands of modern life. It was the sense of wonder that called the boy into the woods in the Chasidic story. It is the sense of wonder that stimulates enthusiasm, excitement and hope. “I wonder” is the attitude that sustains exploration and results in discovery. It leads to the revelation of the miraculous power that causes seeds to sprout, plants to grow and the seasons to change. It establishes the foundation of appreciation and gratitude.
Special places offer unlimited opportunities to experience wonder. For example, “I wonder”:
- What’s making that sound?
- Where is that bird going?
- Why do birds lay eggs?
- How do birds take care of their eggs?
- Why are insects small?
- What makes clouds move (change shapes)?
- Where do plants go in the winter?
- How does a seed make a plant?
- Why do trees have leaves?”
It doesn’t matter how many “I wonders” you discover or whether or not your questions are answered. What matters is the intensity of the experience and the personal meaning it has for you and the child.
Where you go is a primary consideration because each site offers unique opportunities. Time is a major factor; the time of day, the time of year and the length of time you have. Other factors are the season and the weather.
A site is actually a rich mosaic of features. Some sites such as museums and nature preserves offer a wide variety of features and lend themselves to multiple visits. Some sites remain pretty much the same throughout the year, whereas others portray seasonal changes. Sometimes meaningful experiences result from limiting the area or the features one selects and other times a wider exploration may be the desired focus.
Finally, you may have a certain theme you desire to explore, one suggested by a book or a story or the qualities we suggest in our word list.
Although the presence of Spirit can be found everywhere, there are special places that may help evoke inspiration. In addition to the many Houses of Worship in our community, the following Special Places may help set the tone and enhance your experience.
General Sites – Beaches, farms, parks, lakes, springs, trails, and even your yard are places to nurture the child’s spirit.
|Birdsong Nature Center|
|Lake Jackson Indian Mounds|
|Mission San Luis|
|Coastal Attractions Big Bend|
|St. Marks Lighthouse|
|Wakulla Springs State Park|
|Canopy Roads & County Lanes|
|Lichgate on High Road
|A place of enchantment awaits families at Lichgate. Snuggled among pines and a giant oak sits a charming English cottage. This unique structure allows the mind to wander to far away places of fairies and fun. Nearby are gardens lovingly tended. Herbs, flowers and vegetables thrive in well designed plots. Children can point out their favorites and plan garden plots of their own. A walk around the site provides eager children and their caregivers opportunities to discover a labyrinth. Quietly and deliberately following this ancient stone circle, will surely lead to meditation and deep thought. The giant oak beacons children and adults alike to “sit a spell”. A good book, a picnic, and a conversation are invited during time under the spreading arms of the ancient tree. Bring a blanket, spread it under the branches and enjoy nature at its best. It is all so close, yet so far from the busyness of daily life. Come see for yourself. You may walk away changed. You most certainly will walk away planning your next visit. Visitors may be invited to tour the home and learn about the builder and her vision. (The house is open to the public Friday afternoons.)|
A well-planned outing yields far better results. This is not meant to imply a lack of spontaneity. A beautiful morning may call you outdoors or a rainy day may provide a window of opportunity for indoor exploration.
Adequate planning enables you to calmly, yet enthusiastically, conduct the day’s activities. It also helps you maintain the focus of your theme. The spiritual message is easily lost if the participants become hurried, tired or frustrated.
Planning quiet times is as important as planning the more active portions of the journey.
The journey to the site is an important part of the adventure. It sets the tone, one that says, “We are going to have a good time”. It offers an opportunity to emphasize why you are going. It also provides time to set or review the “ground rules.”
The following suggestions can serve as guidelines for deriving the greatest benefit from the special place you visit.
- Experience is a discovery process and exploration leads to discovery, so allow plenty of time for exploration.
- Share your delight and remember to enjoy yourself.
- Ask open ended questions and encourage the child to question.
- Give the child choices and let the child lead.
- Emphasize connections and interactions.
- Use words that are kind, caring, gentle and peaceful. Emphasize feelings.
- Cultivate a sense of wonder and deep appreciation.
- Allow for quiet times when you can listen and become aware of the presence of Spirit.
- Be aware of movement. The way a child moves and the movement of things in the environment send important messages.
- Remember, everything is filled with possibilities awaiting discovery and appreciation. Therefore, walk “mindfully” as you seek out the invisible as well as the visible.
- Approach everything with an attitude of honor and respect.
- Tarry long enough to permit unhurried exploration, but be alert to signals that interest or enthusiasm is fading.
- Keep the purpose in mind. Keep your directions and suggestions simple, concise and concrete.
Meaningful experiences offer endless opportunities for recall, both immediate and long range. The message of the trip can be reinforced and extended by follow-up activities. Things a child can see, hear, touch, taste and feel provide opportunities for extended exploration of spiritual qualities. The following examples serve to illustrate this concept.
- Read or reread a book or story with themes that illustrate the qualities fostered during the on-site visit.
- Take a discovery walking tour of your yard or the school yard and identify features that help the child relive the experience.
- Let the child make a colorful map, mural, mobile, puppet or paper chain that illustrates the theme you explored on your trip.
- Ask the child what was heard, seen or felt. Write down what they say and make up a story, a song or a poem.
- Make a display of natural objects (rocks, sticks, leaves, berries, nuts) that recall the adventure.