The “nature table”, or a sacred place of our own.
My seven-year-old son is a devout admirer of nature: butterflies, stones, waterfalls, squirrels, birds – you name it – always capture his attention and find a place in his big little heart. His favorite animal used to be the shark, but more recently he has become obsessed with the peregrine falcon. In the past months, he has been feeding the birds that come to our garden. He talks to them and has learned the different species they belong to by heart. A few weeks ago, he came home from school thrilled about having saved a bee from drowning. “She was so tired from trying to swim,” he said, “that when she climbed on the flower petal I put near her, she sat still for a couple of seconds and even let me touch her furry back! She knew I had saved her!”
This love of nature has more recently derived into a passion for collecting (mostly) “natural” objects that somehow represent things that are meaningful to him: a set of wooden sticks that he polishes every morning with a piece of sandpaper, the first flower that bloomed in our garden this spring, a set of stones and crystals, and one shark tooth that he bought at the flea-market with some of the coins he got from the tooth fairy. Each object, as he explained to me, stands for something greater: “my flower stands for the beauty of our home, the rocks for our strength, my crystals for our magic, and the sticks for everything that I love doing,” he said, looking at me with a very serious face.
Sacred as they are to him, these items deserved a special place to be kept in. This is how he came up with the idea of a “nature table”: one on which all of his treasures lie, carefully and lovingly organized by his little hand. The simplest and yet beautiful nature table has become his sacred place, a small altar where his wonderful mind has chosen to keep everything that he cherishes. As I watch him stand in awe of his nature table, carefully pick up and rejoice in every one of his little objects, I understand an important lesson that he is inadvertently teaching me: the importance of having a sacred place, a physical or spiritual corner, where we can keep everything that is dear to us, everything that is a treasure in our eyes, regardless of how meaningful or meaningless it might be in the eyes of others. Where is your sacred place?