Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Valentine

With dinner dishes rinsed and stacked, we moved to the living room. Jonathan had brought a book of poetry, and we took turns opening to a random page and reading aloud the words found there. When it came into my hands, the book offered us Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye. I read the first lines… 

“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.”

I knew at once that this poem had been written by a woman who knew loss and had something to teach. As I continued reading aloud words that sculpted the contours of “the tender gravity of kindness,” I was not disappointed.

Kindness may be appreciated, enjoyed, greeted warmly, but until we experience “how desolate the landscape can be,” we cannot know its essential nature. Our thirst must be great before we grasp the magnitude of our need.

After a lifetime of looking into the unfathomable reaches of deep space, astrophysicist and astronomer Carl Sagan wrote, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”

Love. We are told that God is love. Kindness must be, then, the simplest way to pass on that love. Kindness is the Divine in action.

My second~grade teacher, Mrs. Ross, rises now from memory~~tall, brown hair swept off her face, gentle eyes, a soft voice. I joined her class late in the fall after my parents withdrew me from the Catholic school following an incident of violence by one of the nuns, the latest in a string of small terrors.

I was placed in Mrs. Ross's class, not because she had an unused desk or because my test scores matched those of the rest of her students. No, I was placed there because I was a shy and frightened child, and Mrs. Ross was kind.

For me, she was the sun shining, a balm soothing. The principal directed her to focus, not on academics, but on returning me to a 7~year~old's joy. And she did her job well. Over the next few months, I relaxed and settled into a classroom much different from the one I had left. My eyes brightened and my smile came more easily.

As Valentine's Day approached, we made small mailboxes, covered in colored paper and adorned with designs of our choosing. Mrs. Ross made clear that we would give cards to everyone and receive them from everyone. No popularity test, this. No, the love Mrs. Ross gave, and taught us to give in turn, flowed beneath preferences and personalities. It was a nourishing stream. It was unconditional and all~inclusive.

And this love moves on now in this belated Valentine's card to you. Though we may not have met in this world, I greet you as the sparkling stardust you are. Fueled by the breath of the Infinite, you are Its expression in the world. You are also love's opportunity, for in moments of kindness, you become love realized. Love's sweet Valentine.

Love, love and more love, this day and everyday!

Leia Marie

Here is a link to Naomi Shihab Nye's poem, Kindness.

And in the spirit of Valentine's Day, here's a sweet (and short) video with a lovely message I think Mrs. Ross would endorse~~Love Has No Labels


Anonymous said...

To truly lose one who was so loved has got so much pain, that it is nice to know you can come out on the other side and still love. Kindness is a form of love and we can share it everyday in so many ways. Thanks for the love and kindness you show!

Leia Marie said...

Yes, losing a loved one is indeed one of the most painful experiences. And moving through that pain to love again may be one of the most precious. We are healing creatures and, since love is at the base of it all, love will see us through.

Thank you for reading and for writing.

Laura Lee Carter said...

“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” A lovely thought that so reminds me of my other favorite love quote by Eric Fromm: “The mature response to the problem of existence is love.” --The Art of Loving
Thanks for this reminder of why we are here, and how we can express that love everyday

Leia Marie said...

Yes, Laura Lee, same sentiment, slightly different wording. And as we all know, this sentiment has been repeated again and again throughout the span of time humankind has been living upon this sweet Earth.

May those who have ears, hear. And may those whose ears are not yet open find their way to Love. Amen!

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Leia Marie