This past summer, we watched the Palomares Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment group explore Pomona College’s Organic Garden, the beautiful grounds of Claremont Colleges and Pitzer College. We watched everyone literally breaking out of their shells in the garden through hands-on activities under the blue sky and under the shade of fruit-bearing trees. Indeed we had created a magnetic center and before we knew it, kids were bringing their friends, relatives, and siblings to join. Initially, they began with ah’s and ooh’s and other expressions of amazement and joy chasing after a butterfly, trying to catch a lizard, tasting a juicy mulberry off the tree, and wondering what was so special about the composting heap!!.
With every visit, the garden became less of an amusement ground and more like a home to nurture both the body and the soul. Students dug their hands deep into the soil, planted their selection of seeds, watered their plots, covered it to remain safe from the squirrels, and journaled about their experiences. They grow deep in understanding the metaphors in nature that they learned in prayers and sang in moments of meditation and reflection in the garden. They sang, O God educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of The garden… Eating fresh fruits and vegetables now was no longer a word but an experience they knew and loved. Jasmine was surprised to see a yellow watermelon and more surprised to discover how sweet it tasted. In the spirit of service we have all been learning and nurturing, she brought it around to serve everyone with radiance. The loving and joyous conversations in the garden amongst all of diverse ages and backgrounds drew everyone into the circle of inclusion and oneness. There were no clicks, no outsiders, no them, and only us. The highest identity, the common humanity in each of us, was the banner we all held to distinguish ourselves and unite all of us as cells of one body.
The result was learning, working, and laughing together as one family, as flowers of one garden, the waves of one sea, the leaves of one tree, the fruits of one branch, united, harmonious, and happy yet varied in shapes, sizes, and colors.
Some of the profound topics which were naturally explored and discussed by all are as follows:
In order to grow a plant, we need the sun, water, and rich soil. In order to grow spiritually, we need divine illumination, loving relations with the rest of humanity and a rich ground of support and collaboration, sense of oneness with the rest of humanity.
Prayer is like the sun and the rain to the soil of our hearts. It is a source of replenishment, growth, and joy.
Every plant is different in the sense of what it needs to be its best. Human beings are also diverse and this diversity is a source of joy and beauty.
There is life and there is death in the garden but there is no annihilation, just a transition from one state to another. The animal that dies and is buried in the ground, nurtures the trees and the plants that grow out of the ground. Life is in constant change and transition. What we must value is not to live forever on the ground but how we plant the seeds of love and service in the soil of the human heart. be greedy about making a difference in someone else’s life.
The experience has expanded our vision of what is integrated education and has transformed all of us and now we wish to recreate it for more students and families.
Our team is exploring the resources about how to create a learning garden on the school ground. I am delighted to say that right away, I found a good resource for how to grow a school garden at https://www.educationoutside.org/how-grow-school-garden
Section 1: Laying the Groundwork
Section 2: Site Considerations
Section 3: Groundbreaking, Budgeting, and Financing
Section 4: A Healthy Outdoor Classroom
Section 5: Soil, Pests, and Planting
Section 6: Cooking and Gardening
Section 7: A Long-Term Vision
We shall keep you posted as to our progress.
Keyvan Geula is a licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist; LMFT. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, family, and Child Therapy from the University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She employs the latest research in behavioral sciences, neuroscience, and the Baha’i principle of the oneness of all humanity to serve the well-being of her clients.
She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer, and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work, she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Mindfulness meditation, and consultation skills, as well as knowledge of the spiritual self.
She is an adjunct professor of Behavioral Sciences at Citrus Community College, faculty of continued education at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches psychology online to students at Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.
She is the Founder and Executive Director of Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE), a non-profit Baha’i-inspired educational organization, which explores oneness of all humanity, and teaches the integrated mind-body-spirit approach in education.
She has served for two years as the producer and host of a two-hour weekly live radio show for the Persian community in Sothern, California focusing on the role of the psychology of spirituality in personal and social transformation, creativity, emotional and social intelligence, and a greater sense of harmony in a global society. She also has been the host and producer of TV series called Transforming Human Consciousness for eight years. She regularly writes and blogs on www.cgie.org/blog on topics related to integrated education, the oneness of humanity, the powers of the human spirit in the betterment of global society, elimination of all prejudice, equality of women and men, and education reform. Some of her shows are posted on her; Keyvan Geula YouTube Channel.
Mrs. Geula has served in several Baha’i institutions since her youth in Iran and USA.