To Feel Joy, We Will Practice Gratitude

by | Nov 25, 2020

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The end of our Fall 2020 season at Aishling Forest School has perfectly coincided with the beginning of Thanksgiving festivities, which has made it a beautiful transition for our learners to work more deeply with gratitude this past week. 2020 has been a long, hard, strange year for the world and perhaps the silver lining of the difficult situations we have been put in is that we have learned how thankful we are for what we do have. At Forest School, our learners are often expressing gratitude when a friend shares with them or an elder learner takes the time to teach them or assist them with a new skill. We seldom see our learners take any kind act for granted and we are humbled by their innate mindfulness and gratitude. Caregivers- we are proud of you too- keep up the great work of modeling gratitude!

Not only are the learners grateful for their dear friends, but they have also learned a deep reverence and respect for nature that they express their gratitude for all Mama Earth has to offer, as well. We are grateful for the beautiful trees that give us shelter from the storms, we are grateful for all the bounty offered to fill our bellies, and we are very, very grateful for the solace nature offers as a safe place where we can simply be who we are meant to be…no facades or fears, as Earth holds space for our souls to shine.

We have shown our thanks over the many weeks we have spent in the forest at CEED, and there were times where we need a few reminders, but that’s okay because we are all still learning, everyday. This week being our last week together, we held a very special circle ceremony around the fire for our learners. Most of our days are spent playing, climbing or whittling and mastering fine and gross motor skills. We also take the time each day to greet each other properly and share our thoughts and feelings at our opening circle or community meeting. Sometimes it’s difficult for a learner to calm their energy and learn to be still and listen, however that is an important skill to have when in nature, as well as when learning empathy with friends.

aishling forest school, fire circle, play-basedAt our special closing circle ceremony this past week, we each took turns practicing deep gratitude for each learner by kindly asking them to say one nice thing about the learner that stood in the middle of our circle, as they were showered in positivity. The amount of love they have for their new friends is heartwarming and their choice of words was deeply honest. Some friends shared thoughts such as, “she is not afraid of big things” and “he is good at whittling and very nice for teaching me how to whittle”. Gratitude is a language that is easily spoken, as it is not something that needs to be learned, as it’s born from within us. We only need the time and space to remember.

We proceeded to close our circle at the end by each saying one thing we are thankful for and then pouring a cup full of water onto the fire. This is a tradition we have done over many seasons when holding a circle around the fire and as mentors, we emphasize that each learner must fill up the cup before passing it to the next, because we are all here to fill each other’s cup, as dear comrades building and shaping each other into who we are. We hope our learners had fun, pushed their limits, laughed, learned new skills, gained confidence, made new friends, and so much more this season, but most of all we hope that as the days pass that we all continue to practice our gratitude for what those experiences gave to us.

To our learners and caregivers- thank you for being you. We are truly grateful.

…See you outside!



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