In our integrated education class, a group of elementary school age children were browsing through my spring garden and learning about the metaphors in nature that teaches us about ourselves, our relationship with others and with the beloved Creator who created us because He loved us and wanted us to love Him back. We study metaphors in nature in the light of the Baha’i prayers and Writings. It did not take very long before everyone began to connect the dots and see the myriads of spiritual metaphors around us.
Metaphoric thinking is a right brain activity and must be taught and nurtured. To understand and appreciate a metaphor in nature you need to know the laws of nature and how it is in harmony with the laws in the spiritual world. For example, the paralel between the sun and divine light is a metaphoric pairing. Physical life on earth without the sun, even for a moment, is impossible and unimaginable. Like wise, spiritual development and life without exposure to the Divine light and guidance is impossible and still.
In this integrated education curriculumn, the children are taught about the harmony of science and religion. Abdu’l-Baha teaches “Science is the governor of nature and its mysteries, the one agency by which man explores the institutions of material creation.” On going scientific research and discovery provides us with the most up to date knowledge of the laws of nature, the material world. And likewise through successive coming of Divine messengers and progressive Revelation man becomes educated about the latest laws pertaning to his ever evolving and transforming spiritual nature and the ever advancing human civilization.
With this understanding, the children see the oneness and integration of the many worlds of God to which they belong. They realize how nature is a great book for greater understanding of human spirit and every leaf, every petal, every bug in the garden has many untold stories to tell. Children get excited about identifying the metaphors, making a list and sharing their metaphoric insights as we walk and talk. Their hearts and mind seems to have sprouted with so many new insights and they see the garden with a completely new set of eyes.
A few action metaphors are listed hear for your enjoyment and comments:
To take care of the soil or the garden of the heart, to plant not but the seed of love, to weed out bad behaviors and negative thoughts, to be beautiful like flowers of His garden, to make our actions beautiful and fragrant like hyacinths and tulips; parents and teachers ae like gardeners, and are experts in weeding and pruning the unwanted and dead branches, to protect and celebrate the new shoots of good and Godly conduct, to keep in mind that the time for planting seeds is limitted, we must till the soil and free it from weeds before we sow new seeds, to give water and sunshine to help sprout the new seeds, know the unique power of spring that makes thing grow, we must know our flowers before we begin planting our garden, it takes daily care to have a beautiful garden, and much more. The children got excited about finding more Baha’i Writings that are metaphors in nature.
Before leaving the garden the children noticed a heap of straw and wanted to know what it was for. Then they noticed a fluffy, dark, and fragrant mond that looked like dirt and wanted to know about it. That is when we had our opportunity to know the differene between mulch and compost. I lifted a buch from the straw pile explaining that it is dead and dry but it is very effective on top of the soil for protecting the good soil against the bad weeds. The dark and fluffy pile, which is called compost, is the product of all the dead leaves and other organic material in the garden after being transformed through time and other chemical processes into a very rich and life giving agent for the garden. The nutrients in the compost wakes up the sleepy potential of the garden and makes the soil capable of growing beautiful fruits and flowers. Now, I asked, do you understand the difference between mulch and compost?
One of the kids said, compost is a good metaphor for prayers we say every day, it makes the garden of our heart fluffy and ready to grow beautiful flowers. Yes, I said, withut the Divine bounty and downpour of light, rain and care, we all become like straws. The straw is dry and lifeless but it adds some fluff to the soil and make it less hardened. It lacks nutrients but is discourages the weeds or other seeds, and help retain moisture. In another words, mulch is any material such as straw, sawdust, leaves, plastic film, or pine bark that is spread upon the surface of the soil to protect the soil and plants from the environment.
Looking at the history of Divine Revelation, we notice that no prayer is given to us by Moses that we now of, Christ has given us only one prayer we know; the Lord’s prayer. From Muhammad we have the Islamic Obligatory prayer or Namaz, as Persians call it or Salat in Arabic. I do not know any prayers given to us by Zoroaster, Buddha, or Krishna. All of a sudden comes the time of the Bab and Baha’ullah and we receive the downpour of divine grace in the most beautiful language and rich in metaphor. No human imagination and thought can match their beauty and effectiveness in uplifting the heart and the mind. When introduced to the dry and crumbled soil of the human heart, it introduces the divine organic ingredients that makes the soil of human heart bloom with hyacinths, daffodils and roses of beauty, joy, tranquility, hope, knowledge of real self, love of God and love for our fellow man, forgiveness, patience, forbearance, unity and all the other beautiful virtues of a spiritual character.
Our heart dilates when we read the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah that says: “In the garden of thine heart plant not but the rose of love”. We smile because we know with the help of divine gardener it is possible to keep the weeds out and only allow roses and hyacinths to grow in our hearts.
The beloved parents and children all over the world and in Iran in particular must keep these prayers close to their hearts. With the help of these divine gifts and favors we can keep our hearts safe from the thistles and thorns of ignorance, oppression, cruelty, malice, greed, and ignorance and our human civilization advancing in material as well as spiritual degrees.
May God bless you all