I experienced an amazing day when I was young, and it still echoes through the corridors of my memory. I was around six years old, living in a small town in northern Iowa. Our home sat across the street from a large park in a hilly part of town, and my youth was spent playing and exploring among its trees, ponds, and grass. Those images, imprinted on my young mind, still form the “magic cloth” of the tapestry in some of my dreams.

A fairylike day dawned in the depths of winter. The ground was covered with snow, which was not unusual, since snow normally arrived in the late fall. Then it covered the ground until those magical days of spring when, as the poet e. e. cummings wrote, “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”

This day was different. Something strange and unusual had happened during the night, perhaps a warming spell followed by a deep freeze. The result was magical for a budding young adventurer like me: There was a thin crust of frozen ice covering the whole snowy landscape. It sparkled in the morning light like a trillion diamonds, but beauty was the least of its wonders.

I could walk on it, although I had to be careful—if I jumped or ran, I broke through the crust. But if I treaded lightly, I was supported. And it was ice-rink slippery, fun for sliding. We occasionally visited frozen ponds and found them diverting for a few minutes, but this was different. This was the whole terrain. And it wasn’t flat and boring: It had hills!

My friends and I quickly figured out that we could slide down the hills on sheets of cardboard. These were not “sissified” slopes suitable for sleds and toddlers. There were trees to be avoided. Or not. We spent a whole morning sliding down, slogging back up, and launching ourselves into the danger once again. Finally, with my body bruised and my wonder sated, I headed home for a hot lunch, bubbling over with tales of my adventure.

I think this incident has lingered in my mind because there were so many lessons in it. First, it took several positive traits to take advantage of this opportunity: enthusiasm, courage, determination—a spirit of adventuresomeness. But another spiritual message comes to mind:

amazing grace amazing day

Painting “First Day of Spring” by Nayaswami Jyotish

Our whole world is covered by a thin crust of grace, beautiful and delicate. If we are too heavy with worry, doubt, and cynicism, the fragile grace can’t support us. If we trod through life with anger, negativity, or indifference, we break through the delicate covering and lose all sense of the world’s beauty and wonder. But if we glide lightly over whatever befalls us, we can experience life’s wonder and joy.

Far too often as we grow up, we grow grim. We learn to fear and reject the slippery slopes of life, which God gives us for our “education and entertainment.” And we grow too sophisticated and prideful to be content with a simple piece of cardboard or a simple life.

When Swami Kriyananda was a new disciple, Paramhansa Yogananda told him that he was too serious. “You need to become more childlike,” he said, and quoted the saying of Jesus, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Let’s recall those magical days of childhood that linger still in our memories. Better yet, let’s become childlike once again, and play on God’s hills and valleys.

In childlike joy,

Nayaswami Jyotish

You may also enjoy reading a book written by Joseph Bharat Cornell: Deep Nature Play.

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  1. After reading this article my days become filled with love and peace. What a grand way to begin your day and have this gentle piece of harmony to fill and appreciate every moment! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful personal story.

  2. Dear Jyotish, Thank you for your great article, such beautiful memories. It brought much joy to me in thinking about my childhood years, Bless you and Devi , Namaste

  3. Thank you dear soul for the reminder of the blessings of childhood and the maturity that comes with Grace and growth. Namaste

  4. Dear Jyotishji,

    Thank you!
    Play and wonder are so important… and it it so important to maintain that quality throughout life!!

    I recall as a child, I had an invisible friend that I played with all the time. It wasn’t safe for me as a little girl to play outside in NYC so I played indoors – a lot. I called my friend, Mr. Invisible.

    He was an adult man that wore a hat and a coat. We played cards together mostly.

    It wasn’t until, as an adult, while here at the Village, I saw a photo of Master in a coat and hat (not in his Swami attire) that I was able to make the connection that Mr. Invisible was Master.

    I felt filled with child-like awe and wonder; and a sense of calmness came over me as I realized this truth…

    He has been and will continue to be my best “playmate”.

  5. I just loved this, especially because I had very similar experiences growing up in a rural area, enjoying frozen ponds, a lake, and creeks, and sliding down long, long wooded slopes, completely absorbed in the wonder of the ethereal, fairytale landscape and relishing the sense of creativity, adventure, and heroism in my and my friends’ sledding and other winter exploits. And I, too, remember on a few occasions feeling amazed at being able to walk and keep walking on top of the frozen surface of a layer of snow, as long as I did it consciously and with faith. (No need to act on my fantasy of tying tennis rackets onto my feet for snowshoes at such times!) I also well remember, with each winter wonderland event, vowing to myself, “I am never, never going to become inured to such splendor, like those stodgy grownups who only groan and huddle indoors!” While these days, I do need to spend a little more time on pragmatic endeavors, thank God I know I have continued to foster my childhood goal well enough over the years that that magic spark has not died!

  6. Thank you for sharing that glorious experience! Your spiritual metaphor is just beautiful, as is your painting. And I love foxes!

  7. Thank you ,all your mails are allways very sweet,I am sorry if my English is not good I speak Spanish and french .
    OM Shanti

  8. I loved your comment. It made me realize I have been taking life way to serious. I remember some of my young days of living in the foothills and the high sierras in the summer. I would ride my wonderful horse and I had a beautiful meadow I would ride
    to with a tiny river that ran through meadow. I would let my horse eat grass and I used to think about God. Then they tore
    up my beautiful meadow to make a dam for water to flow to Southern California. I was so sad. Then I got married and my days
    ended in spending time in the high mountains. But I always remember those days and close I felt to God.

  9. So lovely and fun! Full of wonderment! I have a similar story which happened to me this year. I was walking through a pile of fall leaves and giggling and laughing. It was so much fun! Then my husband pushed me on a swing. I loved that my feet touched the sky and I laughed some more. My niece who is 10 years old said, “When I grow up, I want to be like Auntie Candice. She giggles and laughs when walking in leaves and while swinging.”

  10. Thanks Jyotish,
    For one who was continually badgered to conform and be more serious, this was great reminder to stay light and youthful!

  11. Maa….it was an excellent one for a beginner like me to understand the path of Self-Realization, it has inspired me. Thanks a ton.

    Rushi Bhoir

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