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John Caddy
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Learning Activity
A Moment of Wholeness


Art Form poetry, visual arts
multi-disciplines language, arts, social studies
grade levels 2 thru 8
you will need writing materials, art materials
time 1-2 hours


Human beings, like other life forms, like to belong. We need to belong. We have to belong, or we are miserable. We need to know that we are parts of the wholes called family, class, team, friends, and so on. When we belong we feel complete.

One of the goals of Morning Earth is to help people toward a knowledge of themselves as deeply belonging to the Community of Life on Earth.
Belonging gives us a sense of completion and wholeness, the way a circle is complete.
“Eco–consciousness” is when the self dissolves for a time into the whole. Many naturalists and scientists report a special childhood moment when they felt this joyful merging of self with everything else alive.

The wholeness or sense of completion they describe is the result of experiencing the self as completely belonging to Life, of being fully one with Earth.

We apparently have an innate drive to transcend (go beyond) the self by experiencing our selves as part of something larger than the self. This kind of experience is often described as religious, and/or mystical. The “wholeness” is the result of “belonging.” It can be as simple (and profound) as singing in a choir when we all disappear into one voice.


The activity is simply to sift through memories of moments of belonging or wholeness until one memory jumps up and says "Choose me! I'm the One."

These memories do not have to come from the world of nature. Many of them come from everyday life, such as playing sports on a team. There are brief times on a team when everything flows, and every player does the right thing, and everybody knows what the next player is about to do.

Such memories are often from early childhood— perhaps a family moment like the memory of one wonderful hug. That one time…that perfect day…Or that one time a brother or sister finally seemed to understand…

Sometimes memories of belonging are from moments with a boyfriend or girlfriend (no, not from sex),—times when you felt like you were thinking with one mind, maybe.

You may find a moment of wholeness to be a spiritual experience, one which could happen inside a church, but may be just as likely to happen at a campfire or walking in the woods.

Teacher: Use as many ways as you know of triggering kids' memories safely. Offer kids the option of pairing up to share their stories aloud before writing or painting.

Make the Memory Into Art

Discover a moment when you completely belonged and celebrate it in a poem or painting.

Here is one poet’s attempt to celebrate the joy of belonging to Earth he felt in one morning moment. Note that Anima Mundi is Latin for Spirit of the Eart

Read aloud:

Earth Spirit in the Morning Presences

by John Caddy

My eyes wake smiling
of last night’s treefrogs
who clambered twenty feet of stucco
to my bug-blessed night windows
and pressed toe and belly into glass.

My eyes make song
of the spear of wild geese
who bugle my sunrise trek for the paper,
Being sings.

My eyes smile a small song
to the crow choir who
hunch their morning shoulders
and crab black in the old red oak,
Being sings on,

Sings up two green herons
who chase low after each other
round & round the pond,
scoring arcs into duckweed with wingtips.

Being makes song of
the bluejays lording the feeder
who believe they chased off the crows,
Being sings on without leave,

Sings up two hummingbirds
who hung on through last night’s frost
to sunwarm and zoom at each other all morning:
“We are alive!”

My laugh makes a song
for the balance I lose,
for the energy spent
searching the presence of gods.

The Spirit of Earth creates my eyes.
This sunrise, I birth gods every time I see.
Being sings without leave.
How many gods can one morning be?

Student Source Sheet: A Moment of Wholeness


Today I was so Happy, so I Made this Poem

by James Wright

As the plump squirrel scampers
Across the roof of the corncrib,
The moon suddenly stands up in the darkness,
And I see that it is impossible to die.
Each moment of time is a mountain,
An eagle rejoices in the oak trees of heaven,
This is what I wanted.


A spider dances from tree to tree
leaving a silver weaving,
a hawk dances through the sky
dipping. turning, soaring through the blue,
a snake dances across the meadow, gliding as if floating on air,
a vine dances, creeping along
a child dances, running across a field, laughing, bounding
free and wild— Earth dances, forever,
for all eternity, across the floor of time.

— Hannah Wright, gr. 5


Swimming forward into harmony,
breaking boundaries
both of water and of air,
Venturing forth to
engulf themselves in
the realm of pure dance,
the grebes, Western grebes,
rush forward to
symbolize the universe,
yet create it,
for out of pure dance
the cosmic egg is laid.

— Ben Wurtmann, gr 6