This was originally posted on my classroom door in late May and is one of my favorite narratives. Enjoy!
One of my favorite things about our classroom is the garden. It’s transitioned and changed so many times over the past 5 years I can’t hardly remember what it first looked like. Once in a while I will look out at the tangle of plants and weeds, discouraged at my lack of a green thumb, no matter how hard I try to have one. And then something magical will happen… I look out to see a mom pausing on the side walk, her toddler wandering though the garden, smiling and swirling the water in the bird bath. This garden is not a burden; it’s a wonderful place, a magical place, a spiritual place.
Deepak Chopra wrote and amazing book called “The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents.” It’s a book that I keep in my classroom and I flip through once in a while when I need some inspiration for keeping myself on a path of intentionality and mindfulness as a teacher and parent. This book and the garden/nature education have been separate focuses but after some reflection, the Green Room Garden is Chopra’s book, blooming before my eyes.
1) The Law of Pure Potentiality. “Everything is possible.” In the winter the garden is a bleak place, cold and barren. But we know that there is magic underground. The garden is still there, just sleeping; waiting for the right moment to wake up, full of possibilities.
2) The Law of Giving. “If you want to get something, give it.” Several years ago we decided we want a garden to attract birds and butterflies. We looked up what plants and habitats would support our winged friends. With love and care we built a bird house, planed flowers for the butterflies to obtain nectar and sunflowers to feed the birds. We put a lot of work into the perfect home and were rewarded as butterflies descended later that summer and we watched a chickadee build a nest in a birdhouse the children built.
3) The law of Karma. “When you make a choice you change the future.” I also translate Karma as the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others… Worms and Stink Bugs have inundated our lives in the Green Room. Worm hunting in the garden and stink bug removal are nearly official sports.
The Greenies have come a long way in caring for these creatures and learning to return them to their homes. We took the time to learn how to remove a stink bug from our classroom with a tissue and the importance of returning the worms to their homes and now we see the older students passing along the wisdom of caring for living things, no matter how small, or stinky, to the younger students- changing the future.
4) The law of Least Effort. “Don’t say no, just go with the flow.” Weeds. Strawberry vines. Ugh. At the beginning of this semester the children helped plant several bulbs, I was determined to not let the strawberry vines take over what was sure to become the perfect children’s garden. The other day we took a stroll through the garden and a voice spoke up, “Can I eat it?” I came over to look and, behold, a perfect strawberry was turning a deep orange, nearing red, and creating a frenzy of excited four year olds. I think I will let the strawberries stay.
5) The law of Intention and Desire. “Every time you wish or want you plant a seed.” That is pretty much self explanatory though in our case it is the opposite, but then still retains the meaning. Groovy.
6) The Law of Detachment. “Enjoy the journey.” Each year we keep ourselves open to the possibility that anything can happen in the garden. This is especially true for the sunflowers, which seem to eagerly volunteer their gifts of beauty every year. We don’t plant them, they just seem to appear as Mother Nature sees fit. We let go our plans for what the garden should be and embrace the beauty that it will be. And we are rarely disappointed.
7) The Law of Dharma. “You are here for a reason.” So what is the dharma of the garden? The garden is a teacher, a place of beauty, discovery, and enjoyment. It’s a pit stop on the way to our classrooms. It’s a home to worms, a cafeteria for birds and butterflies, and a wonderland for children.
Stop by the garden, be enlightened.