This I Believe

Laura - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Entered on May 3, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children
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I believe that the Divine can be revealed through children. As an elementary art teacher, I am awakened to the sacredness in everyday life as seen through children’s eyes and in their art. Children are honest and sincere. They are mesmerized by things we grown ups overlook.

Upon entering the art classroom one Monday morning, donning a permanent hair color job to cover my increasing grey, a first grader announced “Ms. Laura, you painted your hair!”

Kids never miss a thing. If I move something from one side of the room to another, they will notice.

Kids are honest to a fault. Once I was teaching a drawing workshop to kindergarteners. In previous weeks we had drawn a still life, drawn from nature, and, this day, we were drawing their teacher Ms. Marie (not her real name). The veteran teacher Ms. Marie is as soft and round and gentle in the flesh as she is in her heart. Ms. Marie sat in a rocking chair in the middle of a sea of 5-year olds who held drawing boards and soft drawing pencils in their laps. The children were ready to begin, sitting “crisscross, apple sauce” on the rug. In lessons prior to this one, I enouraged the children to fill their large paper with shape and to draw BIG. Today, with their large manila papers clipped to their drawing boards, they were ready to create more large drawings. “Do you know why Ms. Laura has given you such large manila paper today?” was my question. One little boy raised his hand and answered, “Because Ms. Marie is so BIG.” Ms. Marie laughed heartily, and then we all laughed. Kids are so honest.

Children often reveal their concerns and the contents of their lives in their art. A 1st grade boy’s after-Winter-Break drawing revealed to us, for the first time, that his house had burned to the ground the night before. He first drew a house, then scribbled over it with red-yellow-orange angry marks. I said, “Tell me about your work,” and he told me about this frightening experience. Nobody in the school office knew this information until this moment.

One afternoon I observed a group of young children marching in a single line behind their teacher down the hall to the playground exit. All morning they had been coloring in bubbles on standardized test forms. All morning they had been sitting quietly, thinking and working. As soon as the children were outside in the fresh air they scattered and RAN as fast as they could down the grassy hill toward the playground. I saw them running, closing their eyes as they ran, as if they believed they were flying. They were free from the restraints of the endless tests-(which we require more of every year to younger and younger children)-free at last to run and be children. The sight of the children running down the hill with their eyes closed was breath-takingly beautiful.

When I look into the eyes of a child I see the miracle of hope for the future for our ailing planet. Every child is a divine gift to the world.