In the echoing
Of the gnawing
For the day
For The Daily Post
In the echoing
Of the gnawing
For the day
For The Daily Post
For The Daily Post
“What is kindness?” she asked.
“Is it being naïve?
Is it seeing no wrong in a person?
Is it looking away from the dark
Is it stepping around any shadows?”
“Not so,” said the Wise,
“Kindness is to know wrong exists and yet
also see goodness that lives right beside it.
Kindness is to call dark by name without being righteous,
to look into the voids and offer them light;
To acknowledge the shadow
and hold a hand to those in it,
compassion to those who forgot what light was.
Kindness is the courage to speak truth
and make good on promises.
It is the strength to keep one’s heart soft
when it might be easier to harden.
It is being gentle with all
and without losing sight of one’s own imperfection.
It is knowing one’s own needs
and the soul’s True North.”
“It sounds like hard work,” she sighed, “this whole kindness business.”
“It is,” the Wise smiled, “as it is also
the work of all life, love, and heart;
of laughter and joy
of likeminded spirits
of light multiplied;
the gift of play
and children’s delight;
the work of Spirit,
the air of all life.
Be kind, and you would have fulfilled
all that is enough.”
It is the voice of heart
The voice of care
Of here and then and everywhere.
Listen. It is there.
It is the voice that speaks the wind that rustles
Through the branches
From the smallest trees
Into the clouds.
Listen. Find its sound.
It is the voice of oceans ebbing surf
And twirling foam and shells
Onto changing sands
And sparkling sun.
Listen. All is one.
It is the voice of all that does not need
And has no demand.
It is the voice of who you’re meant to be
And have never quite forgotten.
The voice that hears the broken places
It is the voice that heals.
Listen. Breathe it in, and feel.
It is the voice of calm
The voice of reason that does not hold cause
Listen. Welcome ease.
It is the voice without words
That carries worlds within it
The voice of souls connected
The voice of light in flow
tenderly weaving earth and sky above.
Listen. It is the endless call of love.
“When hearts speak, they touch each other and transform the deepest sorrow.”
(Na’ama Yehuda, MSC SLP)
The little boy had a difficult beginning. Born unwelcome, left at an orphanage in a rural area overseas, raised in a crib in a room full of other babies in cribs–bereft of stimulation or affection or even much in the way of nourishment, when funds at the orphanage were low.
He was among the fortunate ones who survived infancy, and was adopted at age two, to parents who showered all the love they had on him and then found that they had even more to give when that threatened to run out. He was not easy to care for, you see. Unresponsive, non-communicative, alternately rubbing himself against their legs like a kitten, squirming to get off, or slumping like a lump of potatoes in their arms. He either cried inconsolably or stared stoically. He would eat things that should not be eaten and hide foods that should. He could not fall asleep unless he was in an empty bed, never a quiet room, and only after a long while of rhythmic head banging. He barely spoke. Only sometimes responded to his name. It was not looking good.
Fortunately, these parents had excellent instincts, stout souls, and good guidance. They sought help to know how to best assist a child so traumatized that he had learned to take himself away to cope. How to support a child who did not know others could be relied on. How to guide into love a child who did not recognize affection as markers for attachment or caring. They did not believe those who said that their son was autistic. “Maybe he is,” they argued, “but how could we know if he’s autistic, if he never had a chance to truly communicate?”
They sought other opinions and took him to speech language therapy and sensory therapy. They went to counseling themselves–there was much heartbreak to deal with in finally having a child and finding him unwelcoming of love. They looked for help with someone who understood developmental trauma and the adjoining dissociation that often follows–they wanted to know more how to best support him. They knew just loving him more was not enough: they had to find a way to help him process what he’d lived before he could find hope to live differently. Together with professionals, they worked to help give voice to what had none, they walked with him along the story of his lost beginning and his suffering and his strength and masterful coping and his current safety. He needed to know it in all of his being before he could trust it. Gently, they helped him heal.
Persistent gentle kindness integrated with knowledgeable attention and direction helped. The child bloomed. He is no longer checked out from his world, or words, or feelings. He’s in first grade now. Still closing gaps in language and communication, and he may always carry scars from his early years and a plausible exposure to substances before birth that make it difficult for him to regulate his body’s reactions and excitement. However, a more affectionate little boy you would be pressed hard to find. He’s happy. He knows he’s loved.
Not too long ago we were busy with a task where we listed things one does in the morning, or after school, or on weekends, or in a mall, or a park, or before going to sleep at night. To the last he said: “take a bath, brush my teeth, read a book, put my head on mama or papa’s chest.”
I smiled at that–the mom told me that they had a nightly routine where they’d cuddle, making up for the many lonely nights of empty cribs and no arms to rock him. They would snuggle together for a while, let him use them as a pillow, then kiss him goodnight. The parents had held him most the night when he was younger, once he let them.
The boy nodded at me, maybe taking my quiet smile as a sign that he needed to convince me of the veracity of what he was saying, or its importance. “Mama is softer, …” he continued, “and papa’s chest boo-booms louder. I like it. It makes me feel nice inside and it helps me not feel like I have to bang my head.”
Be loving, be compassionate.
Let your heart break if it must–for it will, possibly often–it softens the edges as the heart expands along the broken places to make room to hold more love alongside an improved understanding of tenderness. Heartbreak is the process of growing.
Let your heart smile whenever it can–there is much joy to find, even in the midst of hardship–it warms the spirit and fills the tender places with the bubbly gentleness of connection. It makes the insurmountable, possible. It makes aches be shared. It lightens the burden others carry.
Be kind. Be patient. Understand hardship. Accept pain. Offer comfort. Withhold judgement: there is no weakness in need.
We all need one another, at one time or another. The cycle of life turns so that where you might have needed to be held, you are now called to do the holding. And it is as it should be. It is as it was meant to be all along even if we could not know before.
This is how we all are–all connected, interwoven through lifetimes of experiences and shared moments together. Moments pass, shift, change; the connection lasts forever. No matter where life takes you–or the other–heart care does not become undone. It becomes a foundation, a tapestry of souls and knowing, a universe of kindness intertwined.
Hold tenderly to those close to your soul, deepen the love you have for them even as you open your heart to include more and more people. You can do this. You will find the room: hearts stretch. Your heartstrings will grow long and many, and you’ll be richer for it. Worry not. Hearts that practice holding more compassion can contain more love than you ever thought possible … and can grow more loving still.
Kindness matures the heart and raises it. Love heals. Cultivate kindness. Fund love. It is the currency of human nature in its best. It is what makes us who we truly are.
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