Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Recently, I received an email with pictures of Hornero birds building their mud nests, complete with a windbreak to protect their eggs and young offspring. The amount of time and work involved in making these perfect little homes boggles my mind. But even beyond that, I am amazed at how the birds know just what to do. Clearly, there is silent and powerful knowledge passed down from one generation to the next, and it plays a substantial role in allowing the species to survive and to thrive.

We humans also pass on our accumulated knowledge to our young. Many times, we use words. But, much more often, we teach through our actions. When I was a child, I heard adults say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” And I thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever heard. If what they were telling me to do was so great, how come they weren’t doing it, too?

Now that I’m a mother, I make sure that I live by my word, so that my children don’t get mixed messages. It’s not easy. I’m human, too, and sometimes I don’t want to do the right thing. Like, when I’m running late and feel tempted to speed along the highway in order to shave a few minutes off my travel time. I think, would I want my children, when they start driving, to put themselves and others at risk of injury or death simply for the sake of saving a few minutes? And of course, the answer is – no way! So, I drive the speed limit, knowing that I’m setting a good example.

Lately, as I’ve driven around town with my children, we’ve been seeing more and more people standing on street corners, asking for money. Veterans, people with disabilities that prevent them from working, mothers who can’t feed their children – it’s overwhelming. I’ve always been a soft touch. I want to help everyone. I also want to teach my children that compassion and generosity are necessary parts of a full life. And that when we are thankful and appreciative of what we have, we are truly rich in the things that matter.

At the same time, I want them to grow into discerning adults who heed their intuitions about people. Is that man on the street asking for money because he has an addiction to feed? Then giving him a dollar or two may not be the kindest thing we can do for him. Perhaps helping him to find a supportive community that can give him the tools he needs to set his life straight would be the right thing to do. So, I tithe where I see need and where I feel I can do the most good.

Due to the state of the economy, people are being forced into situations they may have never foreseen for themselves. It breaks my heart. Last week I saw a man dressed nicely, as though he were on his way to an office job. Only he wasn’t on his way to work, he was standing on the street, holding a sign that read “Father of 4. Lost my job. Need work and need help.  Willing to do anything to earn my way.”

My children were concerned about his little ones lacking food and clothing, so they all volunteered to give him their allowances. I was proud of them, to say the least. And glad that the knowledge I’ve been passing on has taken root and begun to grow. This gives me the strength and resolve to keep holding high standards for myself, as well as for my family.

And, like the Horneros building their home, bit by bit, following their internal plan, we continue to build our lives, day by day, following our own internal awareness of what is right and good. As always, we are  grateful for all that we have – a safe home, good food, nice clothing, great books, and above all, the love we feel for each other. We wish you a blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day, my friends.

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