It’s early morning and I stand with my cup of tea watching a mother Cardinal feed or check on her young. The nest is just on the other side of the screen on the side porch of the house. She gently peers over the nest caring for her young. Her mate is not far off in the Elm tree watching. The Goldfinch can be heard singing in the raised garden beds in my neighbors front yard.
It is a gentle, peaceful and kind morning here in this neighborhood. She is doing what she knows best. For her it is just an early morning feeding. For me it is a gift of kindness from a world that has been harsh and brutal. This quick morning feeding let me turn away from the Sunday news of gun shots ringing out once again. It let me turn away just for a moment from the words of hate, fear and ugliness that flies over the news, Twitter feeds and Facebook.
I thought of lessons that we can teach our children without stepping into the harsh world of this summers killing. With teacup in hand I went right to Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness to re read. Here is a book that gently lets us know that our actions effect others. She lets us know through the lesson of a caring teacher.
The story is told from the eyes of Chloe, a young girl in the classroom. She and her friends are not welcoming of Maya, a new girl to the school. Maya wears old clothes, hand me down or things from the second hand store. Maya tries to make friends. She smiles, she tries to share her used and old toys but the girls will have nothing to do with her.
One day Maya is not in class and their teacher takes this time to talk about kindness and show how kindness travels.
“Ms. Albert had brought a big bowl into class and filed it with water. We all gathered around her desk and watched her drop a small stone into it. Tiny waves ripped out, away from the stone. This is what kindness does, Mrs. Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple into the world. “
We know exactly how Chloe feels as she tries to think of a kindness she can share. “Even small things count” says her teacher. “Each kindness makes the whole world a little bit better.”
Woodson let’s us know in a positive and gentle way that it is kindness we need rippling out into the world right now. Even the small things matter.