Creating a Peace Garden

Since the tragedy that struck America on September 11th, I have received countless calls and e-mails from therapists, teachers, and parents around the country asking what they can do to help their children at this time of sadness, fear, and uncertainty. During one such conversation, a friend said that her ten year-old son felt fear most of the time and didn’t know what to do. After a few days of contemplation and meditation, I had a dream in which children were creating a “Peace Garden.” Upon awakening I decided to nurture the message of this dream. Gardens are powerful metaphors for our lives. We decide what we want to plant and nurture, as well as what we want to trim back or remove altogether.

After tearfully watching the Day of Prayer televised on September 23rd, I took some quiet time to reflect on what I was feeling. During these reflective moments, the faces and voices of the children of Harlem singing the African American National Anthem, “We Shall Overcome” continued to stream through my mind. Shortly afterwards a ritual for creating a “Peace Garden” became clear. It is my hope that the creation of a Peace Garden becomes a foundation of every home and school, and that the seeds of a peaceful resolution germinate, blossom, and flower for our children and our planet.

The following ideas for creating a Peace Garden are shared from my heart to yours.

Materials needed:

Rocks of various sizes, acrylic paints, brushes. Optional are plants, flowers, or a tree.

Where:

Walk out into your yard or garden with your child. Let your child choose the area he or she feels would be the right place for the Peace Garden. This does not have to be a large area.

If you live in an apartment, or have very limited space, use a small planter box to house your Peace Garden. It is not the size of the space that is important; the importance is on the intention.

Time of Day:

The time of day you choose to create your Peace Garden is optional according to your personal family schedule.

Clearing:

Once chosen, create an open space, clearing away any brush or obstacles that may be in the way. While doing so, ask your child to picture clearing away any worries or fears he or she may be experiencing. Take your time in this part of the process. Giving voice and action to inner feelings is a way of honoring our humanity and connectedness.

Planting Peace:

Gather rocks of various sizes and put them in a pile near the area you and your child have just cleared. Next, you and your child choose a rock, hold it in your hands and meditate for a few quiet moments on the word, message, prayer, or picture you want to paint on it. When you and your child are finished painting the rock, place it anywhere in the Peace Garden area.

You may wish to plant a tree, shrub or flowers in the garden also, but it is not necessary.

If your child is having a friend or friends over for a play day, invite them to participate in the creation and perpetuation of the Peace Garden. They can be asked to bring a rock of their own, or use one that you have provided.

Spiritual Pollination:

Like the tiny particles of pollen carried on the wings of butterflies from one flower to the next with the sole purpose of perpetuating regeneration and life, it is my belief that our prayers, messages, and images are transformed into tiny particles of “spiritual pollen,” carried on the wings of angels with the soul purpose of perpetuating healing and peace.

At this time of great challenge and uncertainty we must remember
“Fear is the messenger, Faith is the Message.”

Shared with blessings for peace,

Joyce