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  • Writer's pictureBield at Blackruthven

Come like little children

The photo shows the latest addition to the grounds of the retreat centre- the Japanese Garden- lovingly designed and developed by the dedicated gardens team.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of conducting a baptism here at The Bield. With the help of the team, the Barn was transformed into a sacred space for this most important ritual and to accommodate the 60 plus guests, of all ages, for the occasion.

The majority of those gathered had never visited before and, I have to say, they couldn’t have chosen a better day. The sun shone, the trees were a blinding green with newly unfurled leaves and the fragrance from the garden beds was thick in the warm air.

All these factors contributed to a sense of being very ‘present’ to this time and place … and what a place! And the ones who ‘got it’ more than anyone else… the children.

Naturally, after the service people gravitated outside to soak up the afternoon warmth. The children ran and explored the woods, the labyrinth and … the Japanese Garden. Of course they did! It looked just like a playground, with its covering of tiny white pebbles, bamboo poles that look like a climbing frame, little hills of tiny stones- perfect for jumping on, and a water fountain to cool sticky fingers from sweet treats. I realized a bit too late, how attractive this was to little people, to prevent this first wave of activity.

But then an opportunity. As the initial burst of energy began to dissipate, a curiosity emerged, and questions and noticing’s arose. Here was a special place and what occurred was a beautiful ‘wondering time’. What can you hear? What can you see? What can you feel?

Three little people modelled a wonder-filled stillness and connection with this environment and with the natural world. They taught their carers and those of us ‘grown-ups’ how to respond so spontaneously to the ‘other’.

Wherever they had first come across it, these three boys aged 4-8 knew the benefit of being still and calm, and one of them even used the word ‘meditation’. Recognising how relaxed they felt, their openness was both endearing and a little challenging to those observing from the fringes of this encounter.

Jesus’ words about coming like little children, particularly resonated that day. These little ones were models of simplicity, innocence and openness.

What a gift that day was. What a gift this new Japanese Garden is and will be if the children’s response is anything to go by. It was also an encouragement for me, as I am planning two family nature days in July – an opportunity for young ones to connect with the Bield and its gifts.


Jesus said, I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.’   (Matthew 18:3-5)

Photo used with parental permission

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