Kids + dirt = fun. I just spent a week with twenty-two lovely, creative, energetic kids at our Vacation Garden School. We sang songs. We learned about the water cycle. We acted out the parable of the sower. We went on a scavenger hunt at the Belmont Farmers Market. But far and away, the most popular activity was digging in the dirt.
The kids would have spent all week digging if we’d let them. They made mud pies. They discovered rolly-pollies and centipedes. They planted watermelon seeds, walnuts, and all sorts of other stuff. They fertilized the flowers and the corn growing outside our church with chicken poop.
Here’s what struck me: The more mud, the more peace. A certain joyful calm came over the children when they were physically connected to the soil. There was something just “right” about the work they were about. For a moment in their very scheduled, very urbanized and technology-framed lives, they could breathe deeply and sense a physical and emotional connectedness unlike others.
One of the songs we sang every morning summarizes this ancient, sacred truth really nicely. Here’s a verse from “The Garden Song” (also known as “Inch by Inch”), by David Mallett:
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain
To my body and my brain
To the music from the land.
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down