Just the other day, I enjoyed a casual conversation with a friend of mine as he reflected briefly on the subject of fatherhood. He said (something to the effect of)…you know, before you have kids, you think one day they will grow up and that will be the end of it. But no, it ain’t that way at all. Once you become a parent, you’re a parent forever and your kids will always be your kids, no matter how old they get. Now, I am not a parent, but I have grown to understand this to be true. And as a daughter, I know that, no matter how old and independent they get, your kids will always need their parents.
Whenever I have difficulty expressing what is in my heart, I look to the children. With Thanksgiving approaching I wanted to engage the wee ones in a classroom activity centered around gratitude. The idea was to portray our grateful hearts in art. The preceding discussion involved an inquiry: What does being grateful mean to you? All those itty bitty hands popped into the air, waving excitedly, each child anxiously awaiting a turn to define their gratitude. First up: Being grateful is when somebody does something nice for you and you say “Thank You”. Next: It’s when you have a lot of things and you are happy with what you have. Then: Grateful is when your heart feels happy for everything. It never ceases to amaze me, the truth in a child’s definition of things.
Everybody has a story. Everyone has a cause. There is an awareness month for everything these days and a ribbon color for any cause imaginable. It can break your heart to think about all the suffering and loss so many people experience every single day. The question of what can I do to help can be so overwhelming, we often do nothing at all. Except, perhaps pin a ribbon to our chest as a show of support. I have never been the ribbon-wearing sort, myself. Instead, I quietly build little altars in my private spaces, my secret places and I seek solace in my sacred nature moments. I love and respect that so many people who suffer have been awarded a National Day of recognition or an Awareness Month in which to come together, to honor, remember, educate and advocate for their cause. But what I love even more is the idea that, as individuals, each one of us can embrace and create opportunities every day to honor, remember, educate and advocate. And we can share the stories that are near and dear to our hearts. This is my story and these are my little altars for Abe.
I have a favorite book. We all do, I’m sure. Mine is called The Little Prince by Antione De Saint Exupery, you probably know it. I never tire of the wisdom contained in that one little story. You know, the kinds of insights we grown-ups collect from those precious little people in our lives.
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
…that kind of stuff. The kind of stuff that gives you cause to pause and consider the little things in life, that really, when you think about it, are not that small after all.