I realised recently that I have spent a large proportion of my life physically in touch with the earth. Whether it’s walking barefoot, paddling in a muddy river or digging for work or fun, I’m quite often found in the earth.
I spent a lot of my childhood in the soil too; growing up on a smallholding meant daily opportunities to dig and make mud pies, and of course watch things grow, nurture, harvest and eat them.
Although we don’t have the same amount of outdoor space at home, our sons are lucky to have space to be in the earth at their Grandparents and in the area we live.
As well as being grounding, having physical contact with the earth through playing and working in the soil helps us to actually feel our place on the earth. we can experience what it is to be part of a food chain and a life cycle, we can see our place in the vast ecosystem that is our planet. It helps us to realise our personal place within the earth is real, valid and important. To experience this at an early age must help develop a sense of self, confidence and personal validity within a young person. It should also foster a sense of responsibility as part of our planet, to nurture and protect it.
To learn at a young age that you matter: you are part of something that is affected by your actions, you make a difference to what is happening around you, you influence your surroundings just by being there, must have a positive effect on personal and spiritual growth and mental health. It makes us aware of the consequences of our actions and interactions, and more mindful of the impact we have on others and the planet. As well as giving us a very real and achievable way of finding balance within and peace of mind. All I need to do to feel better about myself and to find my sense of place on the Earth is to get outside and feel the Earth beneath my feet.
My hope for my children as they grow up is that they can find their sense of belonging and validity in nature and their connection to the earth. In these days where social media can be a very large part of how we perceive and value ourselves – when the number of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ we have affects our confidence, sense of self and our happiness – I’m so glad my children are learning to value themselves in reality and find their joy in digging holes in the soil and making mud pies.
When I kiss them goodnight and notice the mud under their fingernails it’s tempting to beat myself up for letting them down in the 20 minutes before bed when I didn’t check them in the bathroom. But I can’t help but smile, my boys are creatures of the earth, that’s where they belong and that’s where they’ll find their joy and themselves. It’s not such a bad thing if they carry a little bit of it with them as a reminder of where they belong.
Wishing you joy in your place on our beautiful Earth.