For seven years I was greeted by Table Mountain, the flamingos, the smiling faces of the Oude Molen guards and often by Bonnie Bella the cat or the chickens at Gaia. Gaia, a place, where children have the chance to experience horses, chickens, flamingos and a whole host of water birds, and the opportunity to see wood-fired bread ovens, gardeners tending their vegetables, the life of a village with wide open spaces, framed by the backdrop of our beloved Table Mountain.
I wish to tell a short story about my Gaia time.
Once upon a time there was a man who was very rich and had everything. Only one thing was missing: he did not know the secret of life and death. He decided therefore to find a wise man who could reveal to him the secret of life and death. After a long time, he arrived at the mountain where the wise man lived. The rich man knocked on his door, but after a little while only a little window in the door was opened. The rich man explained his wish. The window was shut and after a little while was opened again, and a loaf of bread was offered to him. The man looked at it and did not quite know what to do with it. Bread was the last thing he needed. He had asked for the door to be opened. The next day he knocked on the door for the second time, explaining his wish again. Again a loaf of bread was offered, this time hesitantly. The rich man felt disappointed and greatly misunderstood. On the third day he knocked again and when the wise man saw him he offered him bread for the third time, but with a sad expression – and closed the window. The rich man did not understand anything and wondered what the meaning of all this might be. In the end he decided to use the bread. He sat down, broke off a small piece in order to eat from it – and what did he find in the bread? It was the key, to open the door!
The hidden secrets of life, like the key, are only revealed when we partake in life. Often I have wondered how to describe the life of the kindergarten?
It is the remote ‘Kingdom of Childhood’ which is so far from the understanding of the modern world. It is a place where the children have the opportunity to experience and explore life, to play to their hearts’ content, to develop their imaginations through all the stories and to develop their bodies through wholesome food and healthy living. I have often felt like a knight protecting this sacred land. My life has been enriched by my time teaching in the kindergarten.
I will miss Gaia and particularly the children next year and would like to part with a wish of wonder, for each child, as so beautifully described by Rachel Carson in her book “The Source of Wonder”.
“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world would be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength. If a child is to keep alive their inborn sense of wonder, without any such gifts from the fairies, they need the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with them the joy, excitement and the mystery of the world we live in …..”
Thank you and cheerio,
Teacher Rowena Bell