I was feeling particularly devastated by today's news when I got a reminder that there is still an abundance of love in this world, and that children are the key to unlock it.
My daughter and I were at East West Bookstore, admiring all the lovely things around us, testing out the singing bowls, looking at the newest children's books--our usual. My daughter in particular is mesmerized by meditation stones. She stood at the front of the store for almost half an hour, touching each and every stone, holding them in her hand, closing her eyes and feeling them with her whole being. Finally she chose one she loved, but it was the only one in the basket without a price tag.
"How much is this one, Mommy?"
"I don't know, honey. You'll have to ask."
She carried the basket up to the counter and set it down gently.
The saleswoman looked up. "How can I help you?"
"I was wondering how much this one cost?" N said. "It doesn't have a price tag."
"Hmm. We have someone who prices them out according to very strict criteria, like weight and size...but maybe we can find a similar one." She looked through the basket and found one almost exactly the same cut and size. "This one is very similar and it's $9, so I think we could give you this other one for $9, too."
"Oh," N said, looking crushed. "I don't have $9."
At this point the saleswoman paused. I was standing back a bit, letting Baby Girl handle things. The saleswoman looked at me looking at N, and then back to her.
"How much do you have?"
N opened her hand to reveal the crumpled five dollar bill--her allowance--in it. "I only have $5."
The saleswoman paused again, looking at the money clutched in a fist still softened by baby fat slowly moving toward tweendom, and then at her face.
"Are there any other stones that speak to you?" she asked.
"I really liked this one," N sighed.
"And are you sure you don't like any of the other ones?"
N pushed the stones in the basket around a bit, then sighed again, disappointed.
"No, I really liked this one."
The saleswoman rummaged through the basket and found one that was nothing like the one N had picked. "This one is only $6, and it's pretty close in size," (it wasn't) "and it's only $6. And since this one is only $6, I think we can give you the other one for $5, if it's something that you're really sure you want."
My daughter's eyes lit up, and the two of them traded. The crumpled, sweaty five dollar bill had magically transformed into the perfect meditation stone. She looked up at the saleswoman with big eyes and said, "Thank you."
The saleswoman smiled, I smiled, and N smiled. As we walked out of the store toward the car she held the stone reverently.
"That's a great meditation stone," I said as we turned a corner.
"I know. And that woman was so kind to me, letting me have it for only $5 when it probably should have cost $9."
"I know. That might be something you could meditate on. Maybe every time you hold the stone you could meditate on kindness and love."
She nodded her head and held the stone closer to her.
"I think every time I go in that store I'll have a good feeling."
"I think you can have that feeling when you hold the stone, too."
She nodded and then she said softly, almost to herself, "I feel so loved and welcome."
I had to hide my face a moment, because I couldn't help thinking of the hundreds of children out there who don't feel loved and welcome. That $4 probably didn't mean much to the saleswoman, but it meant the world to my daughter. My deepest wish is that we can build a world where every moment is a meditation on love, and each one of us can reach out in kindness to a child, any child, every child.
When our children are filled with love and acceptance they'll be able to pass that feeling along to others they encounter, and so on and so on until we have a wave of love so huge it washes over each of us and cleanses the despair we see and hear in the news.
Today it was a saleswoman who decided to spread a little love and kindness herself.
Next may it be us.
Telling Your Brain the Truth (or, I Guess They DO Listen!)