This week we gathered to learn the real story of St. Nicholas. My favorite line in the story is,
“Nicholas was loved for one reason. He loved. He loved God and God’s people so much that he would do anything for them”. Nicholas was known and remembered for his great love. I arrived at class having assumed I was the storyteller and it quickly became clear that another teacher was also prepared to tell the story. Love in this moment was me saying clearly that I would appreciate it if my co-teacher told the story. I wanted to be the door teacher. And love in the next moment was coming back to center and witness as I observed thoughts coming to me about how I might have told the story differently. Love was letting go of the idea there is any right way to tell the story and instead watching and hearing how the story was told and listening for what was there.
This past week has been challenging for me. I have ridden up and down on waves of real and made up stories. I have felt fine and noticed that my behavior was indicating otherwise. I feel very sensitized now to seeing multiple layers in the stories I hear and tell. I am seeing very big moments reflected in very small moments. Above all I am struggling to deeply align myself with Love. I want to love that Mystery we sometimes call God. I want to love all beings. I want to be like St. Nicholas. In this desire, everything feels important. So when one child took a toy out of another childs’ hands during our circle and a fist was raised, I walked calmly over, held the hitting hand and said I would help. I asked for the toy back. The child refused. I took a breath and repeated that I needed the child to give me the toy. I felt the urge to copy the offending behavior and with my greater strength, power and authority, to take the toy out of the child’s hand. And I stopped. I asked for the toy again and it was given to me. I asked the other child if I could keep the toy safe till the end of our circle and he willingly handed them over, an action he had earlier refused to do. This was a good interaction. We stayed safe physically. I exercised facilitating restraint and held the tension of compassion for all three of us. I also clearly stated what was ok and what I wanted to happen. We made it through together.
This was a beautiful and difficult small moment, a blip of time in our class, but it reflects for me a larger story. Who I hope to be in the world is a person who can enter conflict and hold all of us in love until a new way opens for us. I want to take that extra breath when I feel anger or fear before I act in unskillful ways. I want to bring trust and love into places of strain. And it was challenging to do that with pre-schoolers. How will I do out in the world?
I am wearing a safety pin on my shirt these days and let me tell you, it scares me a little. I am wearing the pin because I want to live into an identity of being a safe person. What might happen if someone truly calls on me to be that in the world? What happens if I don’t take that extra breath in when I feel fear or anger rising? What happens if I try to offer love, protection and safety and I fail? What if the forces roll right over me?
I want to be like St. Nicholas. I want to love us, all of us, so much. I want a world of more love; real love. The love that penetrates us so deeply that we blossom. A love so powerful that we offer our service to others and for others. How we do it matters. This is what changes lives and changes the world. And so I guess I’d rather wear the pin and take my chances than try to avoid risk.
My daily spiritual practice has been a lifesaver for me this week. It brings me back into seeing things as they are, it seats me squarely in gratitude and ignites a longing in me to bring the fullness of our connections to light. That is what I want to live in the world. One area of practice is with our children. I know my own shadow emerges with them first and is a place to learn about my growing edges and reaffirm how and who I want to be. I don’t know what happens next, but I want to go the way of love, so I’ll begin where I am and wonder what might happen next.