WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THIS WEEK? You cannot know kindness or gratitude unless you know pain and loss. The real question is what have you learned so far this year. But this has been a difficult week so I thought I would focus on just this week.
Life hit this week with lessons in pain: the pains of Japan, the pains of protesters being killed, the pains of a mad man allowed to kill while the world pondered far too long deciding what to do.
Then there was the personal pain of my aging body’s rebellion against a fatty diet–gall stone attack. In the midst of that pain in the surgeon’s office I read a poem in Oprah’s magazine that spoke to me. This months issue is focused on poetry. The poem was about kindness and the poet, Naomi Shihab Nye. The first line of Nye’s poem says it all: “Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things. ” I will try to find the poem and post it, but for now that line does say it all.
I preach practicing kindness and gratitude. To some that means just ignoring the bad that surrounds us. That is not my intent, nor is that helpful and can become a denial of all that is bad. As Nye implies to understand the value of kindness and gratitude, you must also know the pain of cruelty, the loss of the good you do have. Those who live in the desert know the power of a few drops of rain. Kindness becomes life-saving drops of rain to someone in pain. Kindness can make a hurt heart bloom as the desert blooms when touched by rain. Research shows that just one person being consistently kind to a child can diminsh the ill effects of poverty and abuse.–that person could be someone the child sees rarely or not at all. My mother remembered her nieces and nephews with little acts of kindness–a couple of dollars in a envelop with a short “I love you note”. Such small acts nourished even those she rarely saw.
So much of what I learn at the age of 74 age affirms what I knew at least and lends that knowledge greater clarity. Poetry build emotional clarity.
Another of my beliefs life puroposely punishes us pr teach is not a helpful belief. Sshame on those who think the horrors in Japan are punishment. I do, however, think life blows can teach. So while I cannot say I am grateful for the pain of the week, I can say I am grateful for Nye’s poem and its making more real something I believe. Stay strong.
The image was found on elrst.com a Blog devoted to Sustainable Development.