- Ayyam-i-Ha is a Baha’i festival that is joyously celebrated in countries and territories all over the world. It is a time of hospitality, generosity, and caring for the needy. This year Ayyam-i-Ha runs from February 26-29.
Lua Weatherdon has written a seven title book series called “Children’s Class: Transformation of the Heart”. The books touch on topics like the power of prayer, tests and difficulties, purity of motive, backbiting, and in the book called Beautiful Garden, the important role we all play in the diversity of the human family. Lua graciously agreed to tell us about Beautiful Garden and the book series:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I spend most of my time as a mental health therapist, mother and wife. I am very lucky to love my profession, and to have a supportive and inspiring family. My husband’s passion is music, and he is regularly creating and performing. His creative endeavours kindled my longing for such an outlet, which made me know I had to find one of my own. I first had the idea of writing children’s books when my kiddos were babies, as I longed for more books with moral content. Unfortunately, at that life stage, I didn’t have the time or energy. When COVID hit, and the world shut down, a bit more space opened up. It took a perspective shift because initially I thought, ‘Who do I think I am? I’m not an author.’ I feared what I had to say wasn’t going to be any good. Here again my husband was a role model and support, as he is so fearless in putting stuff out there, and not worrying about how others critique the effort. He always reassures me that the point is to be brave enough to do it, being imperfect is a part of the growth and excitement. For me it’s a bit more scary than exciting, but I try to encourage my children to try new things, so I want to lead by example.
Can you tell us a little bit about Beautiful Garden? What story does it tell?
When Lua’s children’s class takes on a service project, she’s faced with the daunting challenge of figuring out her own special way to be the best and make everyone proud. But through the wisdom of her friends and family, she begins to understand that the distinct role we each play is like the diversity of a beautiful garden with different flowers and plants. Everyone’s contributions are beautiful.
This story ends with a “Reflection and Discussion” section for readers to reflect on exploring their own unique skills and talents, and to be careful of comparing themselves to others.
What inspired you to write this book?
The Children’s Class Book Series became a place for me to deepen on The Writings, reflect, and embrace creativity. I hope you enjoy reading them, as much as I have enjoyed making them.
This book is dedicated to a dear friend and Baha’i sister Tahirih Fields. She has been an instrumental helper in my path towards healing. Both past and present, she imparts little wisdoms and permissions as we spend time together.
Such gems include that the family is the foundation of society, so when I have to stay home to take care of family, and miss Baha’i events, I am engaging in important service. Or, when I would share my shame at not reading enough of the Writings, she would humbly state the beautiful perspective that taking on one quote with a pure heart of understanding, is far better than reading all the Writings just to feel accomplished. In addition, when I would make mistakes as a mother or wife, she would soothe me by sharing her own struggles, and the recognition that we are here to learn, not know it all. There are many more moment and gems, but in short, we never know the impact of our words. The more we engage with each other from a place of humble vulnerability the more we help heal the world. It is not that my beloved friend necessarily tells me anything I haven’t heard before, it is that she shares her own growth and challenges, and encouraged me to be compassionate towards self. In short, her constant love and willingness to be human, helps me become a better human.
What was something you learned in the process of compiling this book?
Each of the books in the series “Children’s Class: Transformation of the Heart” address a specific learning that has been very crucial to my growth and development. One of the primary messages I wanted to get across in the book Beautiful Garden is that we are all loveable, beautiful, powerful, and important in our own special ways.
When I was younger, I unfortunately thought I had to be perfect to be worthy of love, even God’s love. This was such a devastating misunderstanding as it led to intense and irrational shame. I both honestly, and a bit jokingly, refer to myself as a perfectionist in recovery. I like this language because it alludes to having a sickness. What we know of substance abuse is that it is very much a coping mechanism. Similarly, my perfectionistic behaviour was meant to protect me from my intense fear of rejection and shame. In the recovery world, there is this primary understanding that we must turn our lives over to God and take it one day at a time. Once I finally felt it in my bones that God’s Love is constant, even for us very human messes of daily mistakes and errors, I was able to get down to the business of day by day refining my character for better. Just like any other form of recovery, there is a daily responsibility to keep on the path. I know I must say my daily prayers, set aside time for meditation, take care of my body, engage in joyful service, and connect with others who help refresh my soul. The story Beautiful Garden incorporates all these aspects of healing and health.
Who is its audience? What do you hope your readers will take away with them long after they’ve finished reading?
Initially I created these books for my little children’s class. Eventually, with enough encouragement, I decided to make the books available to a larger audience by self-publishing on Amazon. Beautiful Garden is most likely best for first to fifth graders depending on their capacity to sit for a longer story. My children’s class group said something like ‘some of the difficult words in this story make it for slightly older kids, but the concept could be understood by kindergarteners.’ They are so wise, yet I don’t think I really learned, and more fully embodied the concepts of this story, until my early thirties!
I hope the folks that read this story hold onto the truth that we all have important parts to play, and we need diversity to have a fully functioning world. The quote in the book is really about the diversity of the races of the world, but I use it in the story to apply to different skills. All of these diversities make the world a rich and beautiful place. I guess what I want more than anything else is for every child to know that the love of God shines on them–period. It doesn’t matter how they compare to others.
Thank you so much, Lua, for taking the time to share this with us!
You can purchase Beautiful Garden from a variety of book retailers including Amazon, or listen to Lua read the book herself in this video:
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