Open hearts

The smallest kind gestures can make lasting impressions. Seated in my little rocking chair, trying to self-soothe with hot tea and contemplation of the beautiful view out my window, I recall such a gesture…
One of the things I miss about the southeast is the dramatic weather, particularly the crazy thunderstorms. There is something powerful and cathartic about them. But as a small child, I felt very differently. I can still remember crying in terror when storms blackened the skies and rattled the doors and windows. A particular occasion stands out in my mind.
I must have been about four years old, because my parents had recently bought our house. It was a weekend or evening because my aunt Irma was there. The clouds rolled in, the lightening blazed to illumine the landscape like a sonic camera flash, and massive sound rolled over everything. I was scared, frightened to tears. I must have run to the adults because the next thing I knew, my aunt had scooped me up in her arms, found us a chair, and sat down to hold me in the safety of her lap for the duration of the storm. Her action did not diminish the storm’s violence or noise, but encircled by the compassionate embrace of my aunt, I was comforted.
Those storms don’t usually last more than a quarter of an hour- a brief moment in a lifetime. Yet it is a moment that I’ve never forgotten.
Life does not get any easier for us as we grow up, but for some reason, we are less likely to offer such safe harbors to our fellow adults when the storms of difficulty darken our horizons and shake us up. Maybe it is easier to respond that way to children because their hearts are more open and they are more vulnerable.
Whatever the reason(s), I am grateful for that moment; I am grateful to my aunt for seeing my fear and responding not with advice, or reasons to feel differently, or judgement; but with her heart. I am grateful all the moments of loving comfort that others have given me, some of which have occurred even in adulthood.
May we all learn to see and respond to one another with more love and compassion.


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