Odeon of Herodes
‘So much about you and me, what about children?’
Most of us have some family, near or greater, or other young people who know us. We therefore cannot avoid influencing the rising generations. A question I have often asked my children and is good to ask of yourself and young people you meet with is this: what or who currently is the greatest influence in your life?
For a new born child a mother’s influence is number one. After her comes the father, siblings, people who come into the family circle and finally strangers. Media these days also now plays an ever increasing influence. Once when I was a child it was 15 minutes a day of ‘Listen With Mother’, readings from Enid Blyton or maybe Beano the comic, now it is a far greater resource to manage. (And I like many adults love ‘In the Night Garden’, I wonder why?) Vigilance is therefore essential for all involved in influencing the gardens of new minds. Of the many activities children can be involved in, reading is still a ‘seed sower’ of choice.
Gardens of the Mind Part 4
President Thomas S Monson has said:
‘Reading is one of the true pleasures of life. In our age of mass culture, when so much that we encounter is abridged, adapted, adulterated, shredded, and boiled down, it is mind-easing and mind-inspiring to sit down privately with a congenial book.’
Reading a whole book, like ‘Lord of the Rings’ every night with my five year old or listening to a whole symphony with a child on your lap, is an experience that plants perennials in the mind. I remember once sitting and listening to the whole of Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with one daughter, it was an almost unique occasion. Instead of just finding a clip on YouTube or somewhere, I suggest learning to enjoy the whole of something that challenges the mind is usually a worthy planting for any garden and when experienced together with a young mind, will be a treasured memory.
In conclusion, as a thought experiment I will try and describe the garden I would hope best describes my mind, or the mind I would like to have.
Firstly, I hope there stands in one corner of my garden a willow tree that has grown and matured over many years. It is my Christian faith. It overarches and envelops, providing comfort and shade from the volatility of the world outside.
But there stands nearby the silver birch, scientific discovery that rises heavenward exciting the eye and the imagination.
Beneath it lies an ancient rockery, my ancestral family, that with the music of a gently cascading streams irrigates Alpines and other small but hardy plants, delighting both the eye and the ear representing music and those areas of my mind that come from the nation I was born in.
But then there must be also a profusion of colour, a glorious bed of young plants, annuals that are new and exciting every year, my youngest posterity. Behind these, tier on tier, are perennials, shrubs and plants, often surprising, my children and their spouses who excite my mind and always bring joy and delight. Permanently protecting this, watching over all is my wife a beautiful magnolia.
There must also be a path leading to a place of retreat, somewhere to sit and enjoy the sights, sounds and fragrances that surround you, an avenue of adventure for the mind, a place where you can view the world outside in safety.
Lastly, at the end of the path a pergola through which you pass into an area left wild, for though I love the garden, like most of us, there are areas of the mind I do not want to control, that allows the natural order to have full sway. Finally there has to be a place for waste where ideas and past understanding can be laid aside and forgotten, allowed to rot and decompose. But this place is out of sight, behind a wall or fence.
As for vegetables and fruit trees, because my mind is more whimsical and fanciful than practical, though I sometimes make something that is of use, there are none. There may just possibly be a pear or plum tree that needs little attention, but that is all.
As for access, just a low wall on most sides with a gate that is not locked. Outsiders may look into my garden but to experience it they must come inside.
If you have persevered to the end of this mind game, you have done well and I thank you for the visit and I hope it has sown some seeds!
To the Gardens of Young Minds
Your mind can be a garden, a place of beauty rare,
If you plant good seeds and ideas, as you tend it with love and care.
Your mind is fertile soil, where most anything will thrive and grow,
Both weeds and briars you never invited as well as the seeds you sow.
In your mind you might ask, ‘What shall I do, as I go outside to play?
Shall I be a knight or king or queen or lie in a stack of hay?
Where I can watch the clouds go by; ponder, imagine and dream,
Go places no one has ever been where I might run and scream!
In my mind I can be a hero, a champion or star,
Explore mighty oceans or lands near or far.
Or I can build a castle, a space ship or palace,
Invent time travel or live in a story, with the likes of Stig or Alice.
I suppose my thoughts can be kind and caring or even selfish too,
It just depends on me, where my thoughts will take me to.
I can share my toys, visit the lonely and befriend those left out,
Or I can just keep myself to myself, turn my head and pout.
In my garden I can plant flowers of every colour and shade,
And though they live for a season, in my mind they never fade.
Ideas, dreams and imaginings may likewise for a season live,
But if we never had them what comfort can they ever give?
And flowers are also for giving, in bunches or bouquet,
To those who need a lift when skies are dark and grey.
Memories of summers past, of hopes, ideas or dreams,
May when shared, pass on their glow, and renew someone’s esteem.
But as I view my garden I see it needs something more
Than flowers that come and go, ideas and dreams to store.
It needs some lasting features to give it character and form,
Like a tree of faith,
A stream of hope,
And a shelter from the storm.
So you young ones with minds I love, be inspired by Him who’s real,
Who taught ‘the beauty of the lilies’ and of treasures that none can steal.
Cultivate your mind, into a place, full of beauty rare,
Giving glory to Him,
As you tend and keep it,
With truth and wisdom,
With faith and patience,
And with watchful love and care.