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Touchstone Center for Children 

November Newsletter


In this changing season–when trees and weather begin to move towards winter–it is not uncommon to see children running through, and reveling in, the pure luxury of fallen autumn leaves. Recently, I saw a young child very purposely bend down, pick up a deeply colored leaf, and for a few quiet moments, stare at it as if she and the leaf were somehow speaking to each other. Watching her, I was reminded of what Matsuo Bashō, the renowned 17th Century Japanese poet, wrote:

"Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one – when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there."

While I wasn’t able to listen to the thoughts between this child and her leaf, I was confident that, through her innate ability to play and imagine, she was fusing her interior world with the world that was the leaf. She was, perhaps unbeknown to herself, discovering another way of experiencing the very life of things–as she and they interact, come alive, and create yet another dimension of thought and feeling.

This other dimension is, it seems to me, something of the poetic expressiveness so often found in children’s perception of the world. In this regard, Danny, 8 years old, wrote:
"My feeling of thoughts is blooming all over.
There are trees in my mind and colorful dreams of leaves.
The leaves of my thoughts have wishes inside."

The very nature of our thoughts are somehow part of a larger than human world and we co-exist and co-inhabit this earth with all else that grows and dies. Thought, in itself, is the world and its playing and imagining. And perhaps the ‘hidden glimmering’ Bashō speaks of is this intertwining interdependence of things and ourselves, this childhood capacity to see and experience the world in its poetic alignment and wholeness.
Perhaps, as those moments of winter solitude come closer, we need to listen to 7 year old Valentine, when she speaks of her leaf and our lives together:
"My leaf needs kindness and stars and snow in order to grow."

May you and each of us–children and adults alike–find in the days ahead, something of the unique ‘glimmering’, even in a single leaf, that is our world in its richness and possibility; something, through our playing and imagining, that is our personal poetic experience, the very nature of our thoughts and feelings deepened and brought to life.

Many good wishes for the holiday season.


Richard Lewis
Touchstone Center for Children

"Your poetry issues . . ." from The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Bashō, Copyright (c) Penguin Books Ltd. Danny’s writing is from Speakings: The Many Voices of Language Project at P.S. 20. Valentine's writing is from A Tree Lives, Touchstone Center Publications. Photographs from the Touchstone Center Archives.
Copyright © 2017 The Touchstone Center for Children, All rights reserved.

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