I would like to say a little more about the importance of awe and wonder in the lives of children—starting with a poem from Rumi.
Rumi (1207-1273) was a Sufi poet who lived in what is now Turkey. Some say he is the most widely read poet today. The poem I want to share is titled, The Way Wings Should.
What will our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play
the way wings should?
Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of the earth
so that her power and beauty does not make us forget out own?
What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us fly?
Rumi raises a great question: what lives in the hearts of our children? When they grow up and leave home and go out into the world, what will they take with them—in their hearts?
Rumi is reminding us that there is something children need just as much as education, security and nice things—maybe even more. They need some wonder and awe and a sense of the depth and richness of life. They need a heart that can dream. They need a way to hold on to how powerful and beautiful they are.
But that’s not easy. The world, with all its noise, has a way of flattening hearts, draining away the awe and wonder. There is a flatness in education and information. TV and the Internet can have a flattening effect.
Now some children’s literature can help nurture this sense of wonder and awe and richness, as I’ve said before. But Rumi reminds us that kids are also reading our lives.
They need to see some grownups with a sense of some wonder and awe and mystery—grownups who follow their dreams, who love life, who follow a path with heart. They need to see us fly—even if we sometimes crash.
And Rumi gives us a clue for how to work on that: playful hearts. Following the way of playfulness, keeping an atmosphere of joy in the home, can help nurture wonder.
Here’s a true story. A father found out he had cancer and his time was limited. He thought about what he do to help prepare his young children for life. Here’s what he did.
Every morning, the father would wake up the kids and ask them: “Should we go for fun today? Or should we skip a day?” Of course they said, “Let’s go for fun.” (“Fun” being a child’s word for joy.)
Keeping joy and playfulness alive may be the best thing we can do to help children get ready to go out into the world…and “fly.”