Connecting Reverence-Building With Every Day Actions

During our Educating for a Better World Summer Institute for teachers, Caroline Overbeek (a soon-to-be graduate of our humane education certificate program), led a reverence-building activity with us that fits nicely into a science curriculum or as a launch point for a writing assignment in language arts (and which is a wonderful and inspiring activity for anyone).

Caroline asked us to lie down in a circle, with our heads in the center but not touching anyone else, and to imagine that we were lying on the grass (this would be even better if done on the grass, but even in a classroom this works well). She led us through a guided meditation that invited us to imagine the atoms in our bodies and the atoms in the grass – similar of course, even though in different composition. As we relaxed more and more and realized our atomic connection to the grass and beyond, she invited us to associate this feeling of connection with the Earth with an everyday action. Telling us to imagine ourselves doing this action and to connect it to this feeling, she gave us a minute to keep replaying the image in our imaginations before ending the 15 minute activity.

That night, when I lifted my pillow on my bed to prop it against the headboard to read, I thought of Caroline and the feeling of connection with the Earth. This is because that was the everyday activity I had chosen. I’d long since forgotten about Caroline’s activity (it was one of many in a very packed day, with many other events before I went to bed), but there was that connection planted that morning. Every night since I’ve thought of Caroline and felt a peace descend as I climb into bed to read before sleep.

Divorced as so many of us and our children are from nature, this activity offers a possibility for connection that is profoundly important. We will care for and protect what we love, understand and revere, and something as simple as this science-oriented, reverence-building activity can set the stage for daily reminders of our connection with the Earth and our interdependence.

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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