As I walked down by the river this morning with my daughter, we periodically paused to stand by the waters edge and plop in sticks and stones. We do it when we are by the sea too. We stand there for ages skimming stones and plopping pebbles, breathing in the water and offering our breath back upon the breeze.
This morning, as we took off our shoes and waded in to the water, as she reached down into depths that soaked her rolled up dress and picked up just the right stone, I paused inside myself.
I connected with a something like a future nostalgia; a feeling I may feel when looking back at these moments. I wondered if, when my children are grown, I will continue to have these simple moments by the water. These pauses in which so much happens and so much connection is made and with so much innocence and playful authenticity.
This feeling carried me through a plethora of images and stories within myself, all in the space of a few moments. I felt a deep gratitude for the presence of children in my life; mine and those of others. I connected with a grief around the fractious nature of our culture with regards to intergenerational connection in communities, even in families.
In the world that exists within my body, the memory that exists within my cells was woven back to a time of living in the round, where the presence of all the generations mingled around one circular hearth. In this time we knew ourselves to be part of the natural world and our presence took the colours of the seasons as we pulsed through the life-death-life cycle in concert with all that did the same around us.
This memory has been passed through the fluid exchange that happens at all moments when one living entity meets another, in our very bodies which are made of earth and star.
And I look at the world now and my heart breaks as the grabs for power and control usurp and undermine this beautiful, fully alive and wise presence. And I wonder what can be done….
Back to the river. Back to this moment with my daughter. Back to children and their beautiful, fully alive, wise presence.
Often we think that it is the adults who are giving to the children. Yes, indeed we are, but did you notice the exchange that is occurring; the softening of the edges; the welcoming in of this presence that knows itself as part of this natural world that children, when offered the circumstances, embody so fully?
This is but one of the gifts that they bring and one that I am so very grateful for. Without my children, I would indeed relate to the natural world and I may even get there with feeling part of it… yet, there is something about how they show me the way, especially in their early years.
Here is a little invitation to you if you do not have children in your life and you would like to: Seek out and befriend a family (honestly it is SO likely they will welcome you in and please don’t leave it all to them to make the effort), clear some space in your diary and prioritise some time for hanging out with the future generation… why?
Well, because in all that you have to share with them, you may discover they have a multitude to give you in return, without even trying! And, of course, because they are the future generation and do you not also mourn the loss of connection between generations? If we want to gently weave our culture back together in a healthy way, we must embrace these young ones as part of it.
As we leave my daughter speaks to the river: ‘Bye Bye river’ she says, using the words she knows. She waves emphatically and speaks it over and over again. She cries a little as we leave and wants to go back. It is as though she is leaving a dear friend or family member. I sing a song to the river to offer thanks for having us there and I wave too. I also feel as though I am parting from something I dearly love and cherish, something that pulses with life, just as I do.
I carry her back to the car and she suckles on my breast along the way, water for water, life for life. We are all flowing in and out of each other all the time, the only question is, can we attune to it and, when we do, what shifts inside with regards to our relationship with life?
(I have no photograph of this moment. My phone is often far far away from me when the best moments happen. Her is a photo of a river.) xx