Today an all day art fair was held in this small town. I volunteered to help a woman who had a booth where children could paint birds with brilliant water colors and then glue all kinds of feathers and tiny shiny things on them if they wished. There were many other art projects available for the children throughout the old school building that has been turned into an art center. Hundreds of children participated with their parents.
Between running little water bottles across the hall to refill them with fresh water between children, I watched. Of course the children that showed up belonged with parents who cared enough to get them to the fair — a select group in many ways, I suppose. But what fun the children had. Pure — FUN!
Yet all of the children were also quite serious about their work. Very intent. Very focused. Every one of them held their own unique vision — and fulfilled it. I saw no frustration. So self judgment. I did see lots of enjoyment — and innocence.
I marveled at the freedom of heart these children have. They are fully occupied with being children — as if there is no tomorrow. As if there is no possibility of realization that in not very many years they will all be grown up — as they become so different from the children they are right now (I suppose all of them, over 100 that came into our room throughout the day, were under age 14).
What will they remember of their childhood? Where does that simple pure clarity go that lets these children be but one thing — their own self?
I can never be around groups of children like I was today, watching them, providing for them whatever I can to make sure they have what they need to make what their heart wishes — without wondering what I would have looked like when I was their age – to somebody else who was watching me.
I noticed in the slides I was going through yesterday of my childhood that there are pictures of me with my siblings – most often pictures taken on holidays, where there is a smile on my face. I don’t have a slide projector – so I won’t know what these pictures actually tell me until the day I can scan them into my computer and view them closely.
How could I have ever been happy as a child – in between the terrible abuse? I saw no sadness in the eyes of any of these children today. Who could ever see sadness in the face of a child and not wish to do anything possible to make that sadness go away?
My own happy moment came when a young girl about nine spotted the painting of a bird I had started before any of the children arrived. I did not have it quite done — but this little girl spotted it and loved it so much she asked who it belonged to — and if she could have it for her own.
Of course she could have it for her own! I asked her if she wished to paint in the small amount of white paper I had not had time to fill. Nope. She loved the painted bird picture exactly the way it was. I still smile inside to know something I created so pleased the heart and eye of a child! Nothing could have affirmed ME more today. Nothing.
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