Word Muse: Peacefulness

by Tina Reeble, Education Specialist, 
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

This week’s Word Muse is inspired by the Certified Nature Explore Classroom, Edward “Babe” Gomez Heritage Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. They said, “ Children experience peacefulness in our Outdoor Classroom.”

I think peacefulness is one of my favorite qualities of our Certified Nature Explore Classroom at Dimensions Early Education Program at First-Plymouth. You know that peaceful quality that settles around a child who is intensely engaged in his own thoughts as he dips his nose into a bed of fragrant herbs and flowers? Time seems to come to a stand-still. Perhaps peacefulness inspired by the daily connections to nature are so significant to me because I personally struggle to reach a peaceful state of being in my own “hurry up, pick up the kids and drop them off, get to the meeting, answer the email, help with homework, feed the pets” daily routine. I know though, that peacefulness is attainable. I just need to remember to take my cues from the many peaceful moments that I have seen and been part of as our young children have connected to nature in our Nature Explore Classroom.

I have experienced peacefulness myself with a small group of preschoolers as they observed a ladybug, counting its spots, tracing its path with their eyes and then recalling it again later as they sketched its movement.

I have been invited into peaceful play where the Nature Explore Classroom has become the backdrop to cozy whispers and shared discoveries, as first-graders delve into their imaginations and weave stories and pictures that can only be seen with our hearts and minds.

I have witnessed the soothing peacefulness of a colleague cradling an infant as the two commune in silence, swaying back and forth while they watched a yellow scarf hanging from a tree branch dance with the breeze.

I have been the recipient of tired bodies, with delightfully dirty hands who seek a place to sit and be still on my lap or with their arm draped around my shoulder. For a few moments we stop together and catch our breath, re-connect, share in a sensory awareness of the specialness of our space.

Anne LeClaire writes, “Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness, but repletion; a filling up.”

This week I have been reminded again to be deliberate in my search for peaceful stillness. I truly need it. So, I sat outside on the glider swing in my own backyard and took a deep breath. I began to notice the breeze, the warmth of the sun, the quiet. I knew that if I looked closely I would see the earth a-buzz with spring renewal but that was not my deepest desire at the moment. Today, when I take another breath to help me tune out the mental noise, I tune into the pace that nature has set before me since time began. Time stands still for a bit. I am at peace.

Our next word is Fresh Air. 

Be bold, choose to be extraordinary and I will see you next week.