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"How we see and hold the full range of our experiences in our minds and in our hearts makes an enormous difference in the quality of this journey we are on, and what it means to us. It can influence where we go, what happens, what we learn, and how we feel along the way."

Jon Kabat-Zinn

"I am grateful that I have a spirit inside me which often sings. "

Nina Holton

Parenting From The Heart: Thanking The River

In the first light of dawn, mist is beginning to rise from the still surface of the river. A hawk takes flight from the top of a distant tree. We spot a doe upstream standing at the edge of the bank. We will watch her as she slowly crosses, each mindful step a deliberate movement, until she reaches the other side of the river. The only sound is the deep rolling melody of the river as it flows along to the sea.

We have come here to fish.

As a family, we like to go fishing. Each of us has our own reasons for being here. I like the meditative qualities of spending time with nature. My husband and twelve-year-old son like to catch salmon. Our five-year-old son likes the adventure of climbing driftwood and the low riverbank cliff carved out of the earth by waters when they are higher. He can spend hours building imaginary cities or digging a stronghold in the sand for this day's discovered treasure.

The river has many lessons to teach. Some of the lessons have to do with nature and the river herself. Some of the lessons have to do with fishing and catching fish.

If you stand on the bank long enough you will notice that nature will re-set your internal clock to match her own. You will notice yourself breathing deeper and slower. Like the doe crossing the river, your movement will become mindful action.

Children who can't be in the car for ten minutes before saying, "are we there yet?", can stand holding a fishing rod in relative stillness and worry that we will be leaving the river too soon.

For adults, this re-setting of the internal clock is a moment of being in the moment, where the cares of the everyday world seem irrelevant in relation to where we are when we are here. There is a healing quality to connecting to nature. A centering and prioritizing of the meaningful from the hustle bustle distractions of everyday life.

There is no guarantee that fishing will catch a fish. You can try your best but nature will have her final say. The first day we went fishing, my older son was becoming slightly discouraged. He had been fishing for several hours and nothing was happening, not a nibble, not a tug on the line. I asked him if he had asked the river for one of her fish. He gave me the oddest look. Perhaps born out of desperation, he asked the river for one of her fish. After I had walked away, I heard him ask.

No fish were caught that day. As we were leaving, I asked my son if he had thanked the river for being there so he could fish. He turned and walked back down to the bank alone.

The next time we went fishing he said he really hoped he'd catch a fish. I reminded him to ask the river for one of her fish. It was mid-day when the shout came, "get the net!". It was my son. He landed a 22 pound salmon. As we were bringing the fish in, he kept smiling at me. He had asked the river for one of her fish. I reminded him to thank the river.

We have gone fishing many times since that day and some days we have caught fish. But each time we are about to leave, my son will turn and walk back down to the river alone and stand for a minute. I know what he is doing. He is thanking the river.

�1999, Dalene Entenmann is the mother of three children, publisher, writer, child advocate and is certified as a Master Parent through Oregon State University. Her parenting skills newsletters have been distributed in Oregon, California and Nevada school districts and area churches.