Freedom to Grow
Janice Townsend of Spokane, WA, USA
Do not neglect the smallest among you, for even the least of these are treasures in God’s sight. Receive the giftedness and energy of children and youth, listening to understand their questions and their wisdom. Respond to their need to be loved and nurtured as they grow. -Doctrine and Covenants 161:4a
Stillness filled the room as we watched sand being poured into a low, square box in the middle of our encircling group. Rocks were carefully added. Then each person helped rake the grains of sand into swirling patterns.
It was the beginning of our congregational retreat, and we had just created a Zen prayer garden. During the activities of the next two days we could gaze at the ordered tranquility of the garden and reflect on our own need for order and peace. The Zen garden would inspire us in the moments of meditation and contemplation.
But the children had other ideas. As our activities unfolded, little hands began to sift through the sand. Rocks were moved. Mounded hills and deep valleys were formed. Roads were created for pretend cars. Some might say that the beauty of the garden had been destroyed, but others sensed that something important was happening. Instead of remaining static and unchanging, the garden became the medium for human interaction. It was shaped again and again as others joined the children in leaving their imprint in sand and on the position of rocks. We looked forward to each new design.
The Zen garden was beautiful. But a deeper beauty was displayed in children who knew they were valued and who felt secure within the church family. I saw true community as the congregation gave each person room to explore. I sensed that more than sand was being shaped into patterns of beauty. I wait expectantly to see what emerges.
Let gratitude show you the way (Doctrine and Covenants Section 165:2b).
Gratitude is an important spiritual practice that invites us to see all of life as a gift. We give thanks for our breath, the food we eat, people we love, and all that we have that truly matters. We remember that we are connected and sustained by a web of relationships with creation, God, and other people. Take time each day this month to practice giving thanks and to consider-for what am I most grateful?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.