Thursday, August 16, 2012

"The Chocolate Rainbow"

“…We need to be silent.  Just silent.  Silent for a moment…Before we forever lose the blessings of songs that grow in our hearts.  We need to notice.  Just notice.  Notice for a moment…Before the future slips away into ashes and dust of humility…”  
                                                                        -Mattie Stepanek, September 11, 2001

“I’m late, I’m late” said The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  And yet it seemed as though he went about in circles.  What if he had taken just a moment to settle down and gain a better sense of direction?  What if he had stopped and asked for guidance.  We all need to slow down and think about where we are going and how best to get there.  Life is a series of adventures and numerous transitions.  It can also be a magical ride if we stop long enough to enjoy it.
            In a race to make a living based on our societal standards, we stretch ourselves into a state of stress.  Paying bills, running errands and doing chores are at the top of our lists.  We go about our day with rarely a moment that is heart-centered.  We spend most days disconnected and blind to the simple treasures that exist all around.  We act like this is all just a dress rehearsal, but what if this is the grand production?  What if this is the moment we’ve been waiting for our entire lives?   
            It is commonplace in today’s fast-paced world to juggle multiple responsibilities and feel pulled in various directions.  In our attempt at giving our children every opportunity possible, we tend to create this same overscheduled scene in their young lives.  They wake up, get ready for school, go to school, then there’s after-school activities, hopefully a family dinner, homework, bed-time and then they get to do it all over again the following day and the day after that.  When do they get a moment to observe their lives and see how they fit into this great big universe?  We often ask, how was school today? Or, What did you learn at school today?  But how often do we ask, how are you today?  What’s happening inside of you?  Is there anything you’re curious about?  What was amazing about your day?  Did anything happen today that you wish could have been different?
            Most parents are primarily concerned about their children’s academic excellence.  Yes, we want our children to thrive in a competitive world that in fact exists.  Knowledge is a great gift that cannot be taken away.  History teaches us just as much about probability as a course in Statistics.  Language and Literature allow us to express ourselves.  Math is essential in our everyday lives.  At the same time, formal education is not the only source of lessons that are important for our children’s fulfillment.  Our world needs scientists and physicians, but it also needs comedians, dancers, and artists.    Laughter and artistic expression awaken our soul.
            Children need laughter and free play.  Clever thinkers are not just born in a classroom.  In fact, cleverness comes from the ability to think creatively outside of what is being taught.  Knowledge combined with creativity is a match made in heaven—a real blessing.  What are the blessings that are alive in your child’s heart?  We only have to watch and listen to our children in pretend play to see their capacity for ingenuity and greatness.  We only have to acknowledge their strengths to see them climb to great heights. 
            While certain activities can be fun, children need time to discover their own interests and to be creative.  Fairy tales offer children an opportunity to fantasize.  It expands their imagination and lights their creative spark.  Like Alice in Wonderland, they have the capacity to piece together a fantastical world of their own when their imagination is allowed to run wild.   Can you even imagine what can be born from that?   No, you or I can’t.  Could you ever have imagined electricity or taking flight before it was invented?  Although you or I may not have been able to, someone else did.  That is their gift that they were meant to share with the rest of us.
            We each bring our own gifts into this world and age is not the sole factor in determining when and how we will use these gifts.  Do you remember Mattie Stepanek, author of Reflections of a Peacemaker?  He was just thirteen.  He lived with a fatal neuromuscular disease and yet made such an impact with his Heartsongs poetry and the sharing of his heart.  Good health is not a requisite for making a difference in the world.        
            We can’t be too quick to reprimand that daydreamer without taking a moment to ask about their dreams.  They might seem distracted in our view, but their off in a world of their own.  They absorb all that is around them and then they bring their focus to what they consider to be most important to them.  Why can’t they have a momentary escape from a monotonous tone or usual way of doing things?  Why is it only about our schedule and conveniences?  Why are we so quick to correct them without allowing them to find their solutions in their own way?  Yes, they might still need our help, but we can allow them a few extra moments to understand the concept of fortitude.  The answer may not be immediately obvious to them, but the sense of pride they feel when they finally get it will be enormous. 
            Children are really excellent problem solvers if we allow them the space and time.  They see things in such a purely innocent and wondrous way.  My first illustrated book was inspired by my daughter based on a real-life incident.  We had just had a conversation about how rainbows are created and I was rushing about to get her to preschool and still make it to the office on time.  As I was headed down a flight of stairs to the front door, the lid of my breakfast shake popped off as I was shaking it.  My shake spilled all over and drizzled down the wall.  She was only four and yet exclaimed, “Look momma, a chocolate rainbow!”

The Chocolate Rainbow
It was raining this morning when I got out of bed.  I had hoped for the first snow, but there was rain instead.  “It’s not cold enough,” my mom explained.  “That is the reason for only rain.”  I can hardly wait to play in the snow.  But, it would be great if I saw a rainbow.  “That would be nice,” my mom did say.  “But, there may not be any sunshine today.”  In order to see a rainbow of colors, the rays of the sun must shine down upon us.  “Now let’s hurry or we’ll be late,” mom said, while grabbing her breakfast shake.  Before we could make it to the front door, mom spilled her breakfast and not just on the floor.  She was shaking her cup when she lost the cover.  Her shake flew into the air and then it rained all over.  There were puddles of chocolate EVERYWHERE!  On the walls, the carpet and on every stair.   I was careful not to slip or fall, as I watched chocolate raindrops wriggle down the wall.  And then I saw before my eyes; it was something special to my surprise.  It wasn’t such a big, huge mess.  I saw something else, can you guess?  A chocolate rainbow had suddenly appeared, after the rain shower, my mom had just made.  Without pretty colors like blue, red or green, it was the most special rainbow I had ever seen.  While colorful rainbows must have sunshine, all a chocolate rainbow needs is a COLORFUL mind.  And if you pay attention, you too will see that in every single thing, there is great beauty.  Long after the very first snowfall, I will remember this moment best of all—the chocolate rainbow that I did see made by my mom, especially for me. 

            There are many ways to be silent in a world that is so hurried.  Each person has to find the right method that works for them.  It’s not just about sitting still; it’s more about connecting your mind to your heart and listening to the messages of the body.  It takes practice, but like with any muscle, repetition builds strength.  The more we do it, the easier it becomes.  Ten conscious breaths can lead to twenty. 

Love and Blessings,

Kathleen O'Malley, DC

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