Friday, September 4, 2009
gliding into september
I don't know if I should apologize for being in a grumpy mood last month or if anyone even noticed. Perhaps my bad moods are like other people's good moods. Nevertheless, I thought I should approach September with a better attitude (at least for the first post - I can't guarantee more than one day at a time).
Not having anything of a particularly positive message of my own what I'll do is tell you a story I read in a new book by Jack Kornfield last night called 'The Wise Heart'. He's a western Buddhist teacher from my generation so he's old and likely not very relevant to most but I enjoyed the story:
"On a particularly fidgety and distracted afternoon a high school history teacher told her class to stop all their academic work while she wrote on the black board the names of all the students in her class. Then she asked them to copy the list. She instructed them to use the rest of the period to write beside each name one thing they liked or admired about that student. At the end she collected the papers.
Weeks later the teacher again stopped the class. She handed each student a paper with his or her name at the top and on it she had pasted all 26 good things the other students had written. They smiled and gasped in pleasure that so many beautiful qualities were noticed about them.
Three years later the teacher received a call from the mother of one of her former students with the terrible news her son had been killed in the Gulf War. The teacher attended the funeral, where many of the young man's former friends and classmates spoke. Just as the service was ending, his mother approached her. She took out a worn piece of paper that had obviously been folded and refolded many times and said, 'This was one of the few things Robert had in his pocket when the military retrieved his body'. It was the paper on which the teacher had carefully pasted the 26 things his classmates had admired.
As the teacher dried her tears, another former student opened her purse, pulled out her own folded page and said she always carried it with her. A third ex-student said that his was framed and hanging in his kitchen; another told how the page had become part of her wedding vows. The perception of goodness invited by the teacher had transformed the hearts of her students in ways she might only have dreamed about."
Nelson Mandela once said, 'It never hurts to think too highly of a person; often they become ennobled and act better because of it.'
I know it's not always going to be easy but it's worth a try.