Many children… delight in the small and inconspicuous. Rachel Carson
A Sense of Wonder
I am aware of this childlike sense of wonder in two global giants of our times. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Last night I watched the documentary released this year called Mission Joy. In fact I have seen it twice and I am struck by their sense of wonder and playfulness, while at the same time devoting themselves to the demanding work of the world. Both have suffered extreme hardship yet when they are together they play like children. And their camaraderie, gentle teasing, and kindness underscore their compassionate and wholehearted love for the world. Serious but not somber is an apt expression when speaking of these two.
This morning was also filled with wonderful moments. To start things off was the article in the NYT about the ripple effects of the Danusha Laméris poem, Small Kindnesses. I first copied it here in Oct 2019, but will do so again, to refresh your memory.
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”
Is this not a special poem? Apparently, I am not the only one who thought so. The NYTimes, published a piece this morning:
“Small Kindnesses: A Collaborative Poem by Teenagers Around the World. After 1300 teenagers told us about the small kindnesses they appreciate, the poet Danusha Lameris wove their answers into verse… the poet has a message for everyone who participated…’the smallest things we do just might matter a great deal. I am moved by the realization that simply speaking a name, giving a wave, or offering a space in traffic could change someone’s whole day. Or More. …thank you for showing us ways we might lighten the load for someone else, and for showing us how to notice the goodness already around us everyday.”
I so hope the NYT will allow you to read it without a subscription. I have used a gift link from my account and fingers crossed it will work. The link
This is news worth reading and will renew your faith in the goodness of people, especially these young people. It reminds us all that it is the small things that carry such weight, and whatever our circumstances we are able to participate.
The First Snow
Secondly, I had to face the first snow. Since I do not have “the mind of winter,” as poet Wallace Stevens puts it I need to work hard not to retreat to a cave someplace and sleep until spring. I love the beauty of a pristine snowfall, especially when it is light and fluffy. But I would now prefer to admire it briefly, perhaps on a mountain top, or from a cedar house beside a frozen lake, for one week. And then I would go home and tell others how gorgeous it was.
Still, here I am and there is no escape, so once again I vow not to complain, (too much) and wear my base layers. However, today I was in for a surprise. Not knowing anything about dogs, I learned from Sasha, the family dog, that canines love the snow. I did not know this. I was there when the door to the backyard opened and she had her first taste of snow. Without hesitation, she bounded into that white stuff with glee and happiness: falling down, sniffing and tasting, frolicking about, and watching the snow fall in what appeared to be amazement.
She was mesmerized and so were we. My granddaughter made her a special bed in front of the fire and she came in, curled up, and nodded off. Even with no desire for cold and snow, I could not contain my enjoyment of watching her. We learn lessons about having fun from dogs and children.
A Young Girl
Shortly afterward I dropped two boys off at school and as I was driving home I kept spotting these trees with red berries now dusted with snow. I finally had to pull over to take some photos. A little girl with her mother was shoveling snow on their walkway and I asked permission to take photos. The little girl looked up at me and said “I know another fun thing you can do in the snow. Watch me.” And she flung herself down on the ground and made a snow angel. I can only say that all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings flooded my being and made me forget my cold hands holding my phone. We continued to chat for another minute about the “fun” of snow. And of course, I remembered how I too loved winter as a child.
Treasure once-in-a-lifetime moments.
We don’t have to like them all. That would not make any sense whatsoever. But still…if we look wider and closer, there are so many moments that are treasures, no matter what else is going on. The lessons from all these teachers: Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu; the poets; the children and the puppies is to enjoy what is at hand. It isn’t complicated. Yes, life is hard, but as my friend, Emma says: “look out your window, or go outside and spot three things each day that catches your attention that you love or enjoy. Write them down. Maybe make a sketch.”
I know I sound like a broken record and I had planned to write about something different today but how could I postpone the beauty and joy of last night and the wonder of a poem about simple kindnesses written by 1300 young people?
1:) Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring published in 1962 became one of the most influential books in the modern environmental movement. One of my most beloved books that I think everyone should read especially parents, grandparents, and teachers, ( I really mean everyone) is The Sense of Wonder, which is where my opening quote is from.
2:) In honour of our beloved Mike who died in 2010, and loved this Bob Dylan song, sung by Joan Baez. He actually loved everything she sang. In two days it would have been Mike’s 76th Birthday. Forever Young
3:) Sing while there’s voice left, and thank you for continuing to drop by here. A thousand thank you’s and see you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy