Children at Four Quarters

prothro baby and stone croppedFrom Four Quarters’ beginnings in 1995, children have been a very important part of everything that we do, and in fact, are why we exist. Children are truly our bridge to the future, and any organization that fails to take the child fully into its loving embrace has failed at its core. It is important that we all take responsibility for the children, for we all have a role to play in nourishing their growth. As parents, and especially those of us who through choice or circumstance do not have children, we hold them closely, the better to watch them grow, stretch and change as reflections of our own best hopes.

Children are Loved, Cherished and Free at Four Quarters. We do not charge for children under 16, and we subsidize their Parents’ Memberships too, but that’s just the beginning. Children are genuinely welcomed here and we make room for the fact that they are kids. Screaming on little peg legs through a Moon Service Circle, plotting rebellion at the Coffee Dragons or dancing 'til they drop at the “Childrens’ Hour” that launches our evening drum circles.

You will find them pulling their own “Seed Stone” into the Stone Circle at Beltaine and raising it with ropes to stand along side the big ones. At Drum and Splash you will find them racing hundreds of Yellow Duckies down the creek, splashing all the way to the Hemlock Hole. At Stones Rising you will likely find them planning and sharing their own ceremony. At every event we do, there is a place made for the children; making, dancing, singing and learning. In between times, you will see something that runs deeper. We call it the “Kids Tribe.” They run as a pack, look out for each other and always seem to know which campsite has the best snack larder. The Coffee Dragons serves as kid central, and when a parent is lost and not to be found, that’s where the kids hide out. It is a village, it is tribal and it is very, very healthy.

We have been making a safe place for children for long enough now, that we have seen the chubby child grow into handsome adulthood. We have married the couple that met at a Drum Circle, and then passed their new baby through the Mother Stone... and into the arms of our community. And that child now plays and runs in turn through the sunlight of the High Meadow. This is as it should be. This is our future.

Children MotherStonel am often asked by a new visitor to the Stone Circle, what the Stones signify, what they mean, why we are building this circle in the woods? Any answer I might give would only cloud their own first experience; so I smile, invite them to take a slow walk, and I set myself down by a tree to watch. Initially most people are hesitant, almost embarrassed when first in the presence of the Stones, but this quickly changes as they are drawn in, and soon they are walking the perimeter, reaching out with their hands to touch the face of a Stone.

Afterwards we talk, and I ask what the Stones mean to them. And I have heard many answers: a quiet solidity, an accepting openness, a gentle voice that whispers “exhale and know that we are a part of something much larger than we can even dream of.”

Only then can I answer their question for myself, that there will be a day when I am gone and when everything that I know and care about is gone, too. Except for these Stones, set in a ring on a mountain top. And on that day a child will find the Stone Circle for their own first time, and eyes open in wonder will reach out and touch the face of a Stone. And in that moment, we remain, connected. – Orren Whiddon