The price of inaction
is far greater
than the cost of making a mistake.
– Meister Eckhart
Raising a child today is an overwhelming and seemingly, at many times for so many parents, impossible undertaking. Supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood is today much, much more precarious and difficult than in any other generation. The prospect makes you feel worried about your ability to be successful.
This is becoming much more apparent as evidenced by so many children unable to survive what is rapidly evolving into an overly complex and incomprehensible future. Drop-out, drug and alcohol addiction and suicide rates are unbelievably high and accelerating.
My friends, by the millions our children are not surviving. But can we really place the blame on our overworked and stressed parents? I think not. What I do think is this: for answers, perhaps we have been looking in all the wrong places. We want to compete with other nations, and yet we already spend more to protect ourselves than all other nations on earth, combined.
Franklin Roosevelt was so right. The only thing we have to fear, is fear. And fear is running rampant. It is taking us so far down into a hole,
that we cannot see the light above.
We place so much emphasis upon competition with other nations, that common sense and logic no longer reside in our neighborhood. We get so enamored with it, that our leaders forget the fact that human needs and desires can become insatiable. Our fears can override our capacity to employ common sense.
“Moderation in all things” is a line from Andria, written in the second century B.C. by the Roman playwright Terence. And it echoes the “Golden Mean” emphasized two centuries earlier by Aristotle. The word ALL is employed in this concept with tremendous wisdom.
Competition with other nations, can become satiated with fear. And in overreacting, we suddenly find test scores and so called standards becoming our whole focus in education. I have witnessed the wholesale elimination of fundamental educational components such as vocational education classes (yes, entire programs), fine arts programs and (if it can even be believed) recess. And parents were asking, “Recess? Really, Recess? Are the members of the school board NUTS?”
Perhaps. They may need to hear the recording of Franklin Roosevelt reminding us that fear is what we need to fear. They may need to have it explained to them. Or better yet, just vote for board members who are more in control of such things as emotions and common sense . You know, there was a time when a person elected to such an office brought prestige to the board. Today, more often than not, they run for a place on the board to gain prestige for themselves. How sad.
My friends, in such an emotionally charged climate, we forget that what children truly want and need is very simple. The want love. They want us to know that how they feel is far more important than any other thing on earth. They could truly care less about a number on a piece of paper. And I must agree. Please throw away the paper and do not throw away your child for what is printed upon it. The ink on the paper will fade with the passing of time. But the love embedded in the heart of your child, can also fade. Poor judgement may become a tragic lesson too late for the learning.
So express in words and deeds to your precious children just how much you truly care for them. Let them know of the depth of your love. And in the wink of an eye, your heart will be turning. You will feel two hearts beat as one. And you will come to know just what this life is really all about. In that moment, a great truth will be revealed.
The story of love begins and ends with you. The veil of all fear will disintegrate in the presence of your love. Your life will become focused, if you look through the lens of your heart. For, my friends, nothing else matters. Not to your children, not to you and not to me.
If you die today, will your child ever know the true depth of your love? Why don’t you turn off your computer, now, and quietly go to him or her and ask, “May I speak with you for a moment?” And when you do, search in their eyes for the soul of the child you once were, and tell them the truth – that your life begins and ends with them, that nothing else in this life, or the next, matters. Without the shadow of their smile cast upon the landscape of your life, the sun will never shine.
As Rod McKuen so beautifully intoned in music :
“I’ll catch the sun and never give it back again.
I’ll catch the sun and keep it for my own.
And in a world where no one understands,
I’ll take my outstretched hand,
and offer it to anyone
who comes along and tells me,
he’s in need of love,
in need of hope
or maybe just a friend.”
It is so good to need love.
Our precious Natalie passed away.
I fondly recall seeing her about 14 years ago. She was at the top of the hill just east of the school. Natalie was beside the road where someone had dropped her off. She anxiously awaited her “loyal” master and looked longingly into each passing vehicle. She was the most beautiful dog I ever saw.
I felt very sad for her and took food and water to her side for four days. Finally, I drove up the hill, placed her in my car and into my heart and brought her home. And what a blessing she has been for so many years.
Why her owner left her along that road, God only knows. But that person left behind a lesson in true loving. He left out in the cold a real friend that warmed the hearts of many.
And now, as I listen to the lilting lyrics of another song by McKuen, I reflect upon the many years with my friend and companion, Natalie. When he sings that, “Love’s Been Good To Me”, I can embrace, with deep gratitude, the music of Natalie’s life. Yes, love’s been good to me. And Natalie was there to give as much love as her small heart could.
You know, I could never be alone, because Natalie had a home. And I was there to share it with her, along with countless children here at school. I know our students, past and present, will be saddened by her loss for she made her home in our hearts.
Reflection upon such gifts as God bestows, sometimes gives us the wisdom to be grateful. So as you go along life’s brief journey, it’s a good thing to remember that it is filled with remarkable gifts.
When, in the eye of time, my dear friend Robert “Stoney” Burke and I said a heartfelt and tearful goodbye, my prayer was one of thanksgiving. What a beautiful gift the life and love of Natalie was to me, to Stoney and everyone. What a Blessing.