Patricia (Patty) Norton and Maria Broom
It was one of Shree Vasant’s greatest dreams to bring children from the heart of Baltimore city out to our Homa farm where they could experience green open spaces and a healing atmosphere saturated with Homa fires. With a generous grant from the Krieger Fund, the Baltimore Homa Community was able to offer a second year of their Children’s Summer Farm Program at Ancient Oaks Homa Farm in Westminster, Maryland. Eight groups–over 300 children–came to enjoy a half-day of hiking, drumming, dancing, yoga, sound healing, storytelling, tasty vegetarian lunches and quiet meditation with Homa fire, not to mention lots and lots of free time to just run and play without fear of traffic, violence or bullets. With wonderful, flexible facilitators and plenty of Shree’s grace we were able to do all of this and it is extremely humbling.
The first group was from Collington Square Freedom School. Their energy was intense and somewhat resistant, but they truly enjoyed themselves.
The Children’s Farm Program at Ancient Oaks looks like “Elder Care meets the Little Rascals,” or even, “The Young and the Aged.” This is true. With the exception of Taylor and Leanora, all the facilitators are elders, mostly in their sixties and seventies.
There was one children’s visit that stands out in particular. The teachers, young counselors and children circled up under the oaks as always, as Maria Broom welcomed them in song…
“Good morning, good morning, good morning to you…..”
Maria then introduced the Baltimore Homa Community facilitators and volunteers and also Grandmother and Grandfather Oak. “We named this farm after them and they are about 300 years old, so they are very wise. If you spend time with them, and ask a question, you might even hear an answer.”
After lunch, Tahlea, a fifteen-year-old student, asked Maria if she could talk to her. She burst into tears and said that Grandfather Oak spoke to her. Through tears she explained that Grandfather said that her father was ill, was in the hospital and had an operation but was okay. Tahlea called her mother and verified that this was true. Tahlea shared that this scared her because she had never heard voices before. We spent much time with her the rest of the day, reassuring her that this was one of her gifts. Maria shared this with her teacher so Tahlea would have someone to talk to who understood.
We all have our unique gifts to share with the world. This was a pivotal day in Tahlea’s life that she will most likely never forget.
The children arrive after a long school bus ride with no air conditioning, hot and tired. The teenaged counselors are not always in a great mood and they can’t use their phones here. But with Shree’s Grace of enough clouds, heavenly breezes and lots of Homa fire, we elders (plus Taylor) managed to send them back home feeling good and happy, calm on the inside, well fed, and with their spirits and energy uplifted. Heartfelt thanks to those hardworking BHC and guest facilitators!
[Special thanks to Maria Broom. The Ancient Oaks Children’s Summer Farm Program was formed through Maria’s devoted commitment and consistent, goal-focused communications.–Patricia Norton]