Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Three

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the third chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every two weeks and would love you to join in with your reflections in the comments section.

Chapter Three: Voice in the Wilderness – The Sanctuary of Nature

Entering the Sanctuary of Nature

  • When we listen with our heart we can see God (Higher Power, Earth Goddess etc) in all of Nature
  • Daily journeying into Nature can make us more contemplative, playful and present
  • Children enter this space more easily than adults
  • Follow our children into Nature without agenda and observe

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Nature

  • Giving honour to Nature’s little miracles (eg. a butterfly coming out of it’s cocoon and into first flight) creates a more intimate bond between us and Nature
  • Feeding birds in the Winter creates a friendship between the child and her feathered friends
  • The closer our relationship with Nature the more we feel she is a Kindred Spirit and a part of us
  • Even in urban settings there is always a tree to climb, a a potted garden to dig and neighbourhood park to explore
  • Lead by example- also taking in and expressing gratitude for the Natural World

Seeking Wisdom in Nature


  • The author tells the story of a rabbit who was hit by a car and took refuge in their backyard. The rabbit was left in a comfortable place to die and a discussion was sparked with her and her young children about life, death and finding grace and gratitude in a time of change and loss.
  • “Nature speaks to us of a partnership between life and death. Creation whispers to us that death is a sacred passageway. Wilting blossoms that fall before the fruit ripens. Compost that ages into rich dark soil.” p.53

An Attitude of Gratitude

  • The more connected we are to the natural world the easier it becomes to see the gifts from the earth that we receive and to express gratitude for them
  • Meals, water, wood and stone furniture, cotton and wool clothing and clay and glass dishes are all daily blessings we receive from Nature.
  • Express thanks for these gifts and highlight these things to your child
  • Say a blessing before meals in gratitude to the Earth
  • Recyling, picking up garbage, composting, reusing materials and avoiding the use of harsh chemicals or toxins in the home are all ways in which we can model our respect for the Earth
  • Do not go into extensive detail about the current environmental problems our world faces but instead make these practices a healthy habit
  • Identifying these harsh environmental realities too early can cause too much stress in young children who need at this age to know that the world is GOOD and BEAUTIFUL
  • Through our daily actions we can demonstrate how we can individually and communally make the world a better, cleaner place to live in
  • Darian recommends the book The New Fifty Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth by Sophie Javna for more information

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Nature

  • Keep a Nature Calendar and each night before bed talk about observations or experiences you had with nature that day
  • Decide on a name for that day such as ‘The day of the first snow’ or ‘The day we saw the sunset melt the sky’. Offer a prayer of gratitude for what you have seen.
  • Rain walks are a lovely way to see Nature in her shiny wet brilliance- gather songs, verses and poems that you can sing and chant along the way
  • Practice becoming a part of the Earth together, hug a tree, lie on the ground and become the earth, sit on a rock and become one with it: Seeing the world from Nature’s perspective can be quite enlightening
  • Offer thanks when we pick up pine cones, cut flowers or take a shell from the beach
  • Teach children that Nature is not ours for the taking but that she is extremely generous when we ask and give thanks and “abide by the rules of the land”. There is a give and take relationship between us.
  • Relive moments of communion with Nature through the telling of stories- both imaginary and from our own past
  • For older children, Nature experiences such as an overnight camp or “solo” or Vision Quest are deeply empowering and also act as strong rites of passage into teenage and adulthood

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only

  • Being in Nature refreshes our body, soul and mind
  • A regular walk on a trail alone, daily gardening or nature journalling are all ways parents can observe and be with nature so that we can journey closer to our own inner being

This chapter for me was a reminder that I need to connect and commune with Nature as much as my children do. They so easily enter the Natural World without hesitation and stay fully immersed and present in it. I have noticed in the last month with the addition of animals on our little homestead that no matter the weather I must go outside and feed and water the animals, clean their stalls and observe them. No matter how brief (and cold or wet!) this time is I always feel a sense of calm, presence and gratitude for these earthly chores. They ground me and I feel a greater appreciation for the simple blessings all around us.

Do you make a personal effort to get outside and immersed in some kind of Nature each day? For those in colder climates, how might we make it a priority to connect and get outside on even the coldest days?

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and Thank you for your support.

“Quotes from Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian used by permission. Copyright 2011 by Charlene DeShea Bagbey Darian. Revised 2nd Edition.”

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.


  1. christiane on October 28, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Meagan,
    Hi Everybody,

    Since two weeks ago I started out taking a walk in the forest after bringing my child to the kindergarten (which is in the forest, too). It’s just gorgeous. But it took me more than one year, to actually “dare” to take that time for Nature & me instead of rushing back home. Additionally my child and I do the trip to the kindergarten by bike (she rides herself). It takes 20 -30 minutes (and sometimes patience :)) But we are fortunate enough to live in an area which is VERY bike-friendly. So on our trip we really get a sense on what’ s going on in the nature-world and we can connect to each other (singing together, “racing”, stopping to watch rabbits…) instead of avoiding traffic.

    • Meagan on January 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Christiane,

      Thanks so much for sharing this. It is so important for Mamas to take the time to connect with Nature (and the world!) themselves. It takes such courage and striving to give yourself this gift. I really admire that. Your bike ride also sounds beautiful. Is it snowing now where you are? How has the weather changed your daily connection with nature? X Meagan.

  2. Frédérique on November 14, 2016 at 4:07 am

    An over great chapter. The story about the rabbit was especially powerful. I am not very comfortable helping my children understand and deal with death, so this was particularly helpful. We do spend time outside everyday, even when it is too hot (never too cold in SoCal, but often too hot for me!). We play with water (pool, splash pad) on these days. We live in a city which often makes me feel guilty, but they still spend time in nature everyday, and are amazing at observing it. Thanks for a great summary!

    • Meagan on January 11, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Frederique,

      Don’t feel guilty about living in the city. There are still so many natural environments to explore! x m.

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