We might be Littles

I have the awesome privilege and responsibility of teaching the Littles of the world. Well, a small number of which I teach, but year by year about whom I feel I have more and more that occupy my heart. What I mean by Littles, of course, is precious kindergartners. They are the youngest in the school system, and sometimes can be the youngest in their families as well- making this unique position of theirs’ at times a double whammy of an annoyance. Double blessing or double curse, depending on the day.

Case in point. The other day, I was just getting everyone settled for lunch when a little face came to me crumpled in emotion. I crouched down at eye level and asked what was wrong. “A. said I was a baby because I was in kindergarten,” his big blue eyes welling up with tears as he recounted to me the story.

I assured him that he was most certainly NOT a baby- he was in school just like all the other kids and that school was for big boys (big girls) just like him. But it took confronting the bully to help this wound to start to heal. Took explaining that being in kindergarten- although the beginning of the educational journey for all in our school- still means officially being a student just like any other student in an educational system the world over. So we went down the hall together taking a purposeful trip  together immediately following our conversation.  And we did it. We put the smack down- ending the debacle. (Okay, not really smacking…you know what I mean) And by the end of the whole ordeal, I think both he and the other little guy began to see that they were both full-fledged members of the school set. Just like all the other little and big kids in our schools who find themselves inside a classroom.

It’s hard being little. And although I am an adult, I know sometimes how it feels to feel small. To feel little and insignificant. Inconsequential. Because sometimes we look at our lives and all we see is the mundane- the ho-hum regularity to which we rhythmically go about our business. Same routines, same actions. Same small, boring life. It’s like we are such a tiny blip that we feel our actions and responses don’t even make a ripple on the sea of humanity.  It’s like in comparison to the rest of the world that what we’re doing and being is juvenile.  Somehow less worthy.

And sometimes, it’s like we aren’t even there at all.

But this is of course a fallacy. It’s a lie. For each and every thing we do in this life has a purpose and a place- has meaning. If for no one else but us, but usually for something greater than us. Each decision we make and every circumstance we find ourselves in was meant for us to find meaning so that we could understand why we were there in the first place, why it happened and what that all means.  So that we could discover how to use our little offering to make a big difference in someone’s life.  Even in our own life.

You see, our lives are only little if we see them that way.  And little is only a negative word if we choose to define it that way. So in thinking about the benefits of embracing our little-ness and celebrating feeling small but mighty, here are 10 little thoughts that might lead to actions that can help us to live our lives with a big impact:

  1. Smiling. So little, so contagious.
  2. Kind words. Spoken lavishly and demonstrated richly, these can make or break a day.
  3. Gratitude. Saying thank you can change the way a conversation was headed.
  4. Three little words spoken freely are often the most powerful in any relationship: I love you.
  5. And two more little words can keep that relationship intact: I’m sorry.
  6. Courtesy. Holding a door, stepping aside, taking a secondary place- all super-easy ways to show others common everyday courtesy.  Making a difference.
  7. Thinking first, speaking second.
  8. Eye contact. It just matters sometimes.
  9. Authenticity in word and deed- being true to who you are.
  10. Living your one life in the present with one foot in the ‘here and now and one foot stepping into the future: May all your footsteps be taken wildly, freely, passionately and honestly.

So there you have it. We might be Littles but ‘we be mighty Littles. Mighty in impact and mighty in influence. Mighty in effect when we combine our little acts of music together in a chorus of sound to create a symphony. One note has never written a song, but without that single, solitary note, the song could not be sung.

Don’t ever let anyone look down on you because you’re little.

On wonder…

Herein is the essence of wonder.  I have just spent the last hour and a half reading a philosophy book entitled Recapturing Wonder, on the topic of renewing a disillusioned spirit and finding wonder and enchantment in the reality of day-to-day life.  It is a good read.  Refreshing.  After my retreat from reality, as I took my book and secluded myself at the log cabin down by the river (so as to secure a slice of peace and quiet), I drove back home to the zoo.  And when I drove in the driveway, I found my youngest playing with a long piece of rope, one end tied to the branch of a chestnut tree while the other she pulled taunt toward the ground.  I never even asked her what she was doing, for I had no sooner come around the side of the van when she hollered to me, “Mom, can you tell me how to do this?  I am trying to make myself a monkey bar!!”  Ah, but of course!   Whom other than a child would think of doing this.  For children have in their possession that rare and special quality, spawned from an active imagination, that is the beauty of childlike wonder.

Would that I could capture that sense of wonder and bottle a bit for myself.  But unlike a child, I would probably hoard it, placing it high on a shelf for safe keeping.  Wonder is meant to be spent, generously poured out in abandon.

Life is filled with wondrous moments, within reach and available for the pleasure and enjoyment of those willing to take risks and to those who avail themselves to life lived in the moment.  We are wise who spend all we have on what is rare and precious, knowing that while the cost is great so too is the reward.  Life is also about cost-analysis.  Is it really worth it?  And at what price would I be willing to pay?

We played at a new beach on the Island’s western shore today.  My husband loves new, undiscovered back-roads beach sites.  So as we turned right to drive down the dusty lane that is the access road to Donahue Beach, he leaned toward me and said he thought this was going to be a nice beach.  When we pulled in to park our van, and witnessed the splendour of the waves pounding the shore, he added, “See, I told you it would be a nice beach!”

Indeed it was.

The waves crashed in endless succession, foam tips dissolving into a continuous torrent of energy.  It is alluring, that force and display of power.  The children wasted no time running full tilt into the water and had a glorious time jumping headlong into the waves.  One after another, they gave themselves over to the natural thrill unmatched by any manmade attraction at a theme park or fairground.  It was pure joy for them, and quiet joy for me.  Joy can be gained through secondary measures, as I have had experience.

While older ones got their thrills from the waves, little ones played on the shore.  Building castles from red gritty sand, moistened by salt water that inched ever closer to their creations.  And mothers and fathers watched attentively, while safeguarding the perishables necessary for sustainment throughout the afternoon.  Heavenly.

I snapped picture after picture until my camera card would hold no more.  And yet, was unable to do justice to the beauty and majesty of it all.  The sheer glorious wonder of the vast ocean’s length and breadth. The power exuded in even one wave pounding the shore.  Sand, water and sky painted on an endless canvas.  Evidence of Intelligent design.    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  And the essence of that beauty is contained in the soul.  How can my soul not but sing? My soul, my soul must sing.

For beauty and pleasure and wonder and awe are rare and exquisite gifts.  And through my enjoyment of these, wonder has been renewed.