When my oldest child was around three it was easy to amuse him with simple pleasures. As adults, we contribute to our child’s world view by choosing to present or not to present certain aspects of it. For me, especially in the early years the focus was on presenting the world in its most natural and purest forms- as a friend, as a source of healing, a form of fun and of place to worship in. We talked about the magnificent creations of Allah swt, from the smallest bugs in the grass, to the most spectacular sunset over the lakes. And of course his favorite obsession back then, the magnificent constellations in the night sky. He spent hours outside marveling on scenery, collecting rocks, or just simply pretending to fly around in space. These sentiments mimicked with the birth of his brother, who joined him on his explorations and grand discoveries.
However, the once fun and pure view of the world seems to be distancing as he approaches his preteens. And while he still enjoys time burying his brother and sister in the sand, skipping rocks in the lake, staring into the night sky, and running through fields breathlessly, he also seems to be searching for more. The once so simple task of showing him exquisiteness in almost anything has become not so simple.
So while I will soon lose control of presenting the world to my child in the way I believe makes it a simple beautiful place, I refuse to give up trying. I truly believe that having these opportunities early in life will allow him make parallels between life and nature. That when “bad things” happen they are not there to last, just like the changes in nature, everything undergoes transitions and growth. And the best reaction to life’s ups and downs is to accept them, and be welcoming to loss and gain in their most drastic states.
I hope this connection is one of a lifetime, like a friendship that is for the Sake of Allah swt. So that no matter how old he gets, when in need, he will always be able to find his way back and find comfort in his friend nature- the marvelous creation of Allah swt. And the only way I believe this is possible is by continually presenting the creation in the most beautiful ways.
So here are three ways I strive to present the beauty of the world to my growing child.
1) Teach him how to be grateful to Allah swt
On a daily basis we count our beautiful blessings as we call them. This helps us focus on the positive things in life instead of being hung up on trials and struggles. From our body, our health and our abilities, to something as simple as being able to walk outside in safety. We often talk about the less fortunate and save money to either donate in charity, or visit local welfare centres that could benefit. We feel blessed and content even in difficult times. Being grateful allows us to focus on the beauty of life and helps us apply our energies on solutions instead of being stuck in the why’s of the negatives.
2) Use adjectives that describe beauty of the world As I am mindful of the words I use around my children I encourage myself to find the most beautiful and descriptive words pertaining to the world. The word beautiful and it’s synonyms- lovely, peaceful, gorgeous, pretty, handsome, must become part of your vocabulary. I want them to see the world as beautiful because of who created it, the great gift it is, exactly the way it is.
3) Spend time in and reflect on Nature We often go to remote places close to the water and listen to the sounds of creation. We participate in a kind of mindful meditation using the real sounds of nature which replace the shrieking city sounds with peaceful and gentle tones of nature. Whether it’s the birds chirping, or the waves crashing, sitting silent and listening is key to allowing him to connect with the creation and thus, with the Creator.
“And the earth – We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah ]”. [Quran 50: 7-8]
So while my son approaches his teen years, I choose to hold on to his world view a little longer. Presenting the world in it’s most beautiful forms. Painting pictures of love, kindness and compassion- hoping that when he goes through the inevitable ups and downs of life he will still find comforts in the beautiful creation of Allah swt.