I was out enjoying a drizzly fall morning the other day when my path was intersected by a completely engaging and talkative young lady who said she was off to first grade.
She began. “My name is Isabelle and I’m going to school! Do you work there? It’s really fun to go with my friends-art class is the best part but recess is a lot of fun too…Are you a teacher? You look like a teacher. Do you work at school?”
While she took a breath I answered her questions-No-Friends are nice to have-No and No. After which she continued.
“I walk to school. Are you walking to get to work?”
“Nope. I’m just walking to the store.” I couldn’t help but smile at her utter lack of concern for talking with a complete stranger.
“Because it’s good exercise?” She asked the question as if she had heard the answer many times before.
“It is good exercise, but I like to walk so I can see all the birds and squirrels…things like that. I like having my feet on the ground. It feels good to me.”
“I like to go barefoot.”
I agreed that it was one of my favorite summer things to do; to which she informed me that you cannot go to the store barefoot because then you can’t buy candy in the store if you don’t have shoes.
She elaborated on the barefoot topic. “My mom says when I walk on the ground I should be very gentle so I don’t hurt anything. She says I shouldn’t pick flowers or chase squirrels because it would hurt them. And I always have to try and be nice to other people too because everyone is same as me.”
“Well you are doing a very good job of that my dear.” I agreed and she smiled wide.
As we approached the school yard she waved me goodbye and as she skipped away I couldn’t help but reflect on who she might become if tenderly nurtured. A little seedling learning to respect all life, understanding she is a part of the One and that Mother Earth and all of her children are a gift to be gently considered, even when we walk upon Her in bare feet.
There were many reasons Isabelle made me smile. Her friendliness. The refreshing fearlessness of childhood. A smile that flashed easily and with a genuine joy.
But the best gift she imparted was the knowledge that the world will be in good hands in the coming years as parents begin to teach a different song to the next generation. A song concerned with more ethereal ideas, better ways to conduct ourselves and our responsibilities to our community, both human and otherwise.