Conversation may be the beginning of connection. Continuing the conversation is a way to deepen connection. I suppose not every conversation needs to be continued. Maybe some are pretty complete in and of themselves. But those that bring understanding and growth? I think we are in desperate need of continuing those.
I wondered which GrowthLines conversations were waiting to be continued. I wanted to see which posts struck the deepest chord with readers. I was a little surprised to discover that Dominoes falling, had been viewed more times than any other. I reread the words looking for clues to their impact.
When the dominoes of life start falling, words have the power to help and to heal. Words offer understanding. They give us permission to stumble in our grief. Words bear witness to what we already know by experience. That loss will come, over and over again, and will lay us low. We need those words of understanding, both silent and spoken when we’re swept under waves of loss and grief.
Maybe we also need words that bear witness to what we’re not so certain of. That we can stand again. That we can pull ourselves upright. Put one foot in front of the other. And begin to walk, again. Choose to sit and speak words of comfort to someone today. And when they are ready to rise and walk, stand with them and speak words of hope and encouragement. I know we will fall under the weight of loss. I believe we can stand again.
“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”
― William Hazlitt,
Five years ago I began with a question. “Why blog?”. I saw writing as a way to think out loud. A way to start a conversation, both within myself and with others. Since that first conversation there have been days that words came easily, almost faster than I could record them. Some days the words were slow to come, filled with rough edges and poor fits. Then there were dry spells. Sometimes brief. Sometimes lasting months. It was after a prolonged word drought that I asked myself, “Why keep blogging?”.
Starting the conversation is important. I have experienced and observed the harm done when we are afraid to begin talking about hard, uncomfortable things. The willingness to keep talking is critical. It is in the ongoing conversation that we know ourselves better. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Continuing the conversation creates connection and relationship. When we keep talking, we weave the threads of connection into the fabric of community.
Conversation is about talking. Conversation is also about being, breathing. In the discomfort of the dry spell we”re at risk of believing the connection and the conversation are over. But maybe it’s just winter. A time to slow down, crawl inside ourselves. To breathe and reflect. To emerge again to listen to the words of others. To speak the words of community. So, I will take a breathe, listen, and continue the conversation.
It’s true. It takes a village to raise a child. It is also true that not just any village will do. Truly raising a child requires villagers willing to look past the rough, unfinished exterior. People willing to see both the core, and the possibility of becoming within each child. Children don’t need perfect villagers. They need real ones. People aware that although they may be more “finished” than the children in the community, they still have growing to do.
My Aunt Mary was one of those imperfectly wonderful villagers for me. I spent countless days of summer and holidays in her home with my cousins, riding horses, playing marathon Monopoly, and eating the best ever chocolate cake with white icing. While at Aunt Mary’s house, I was one of her kids, nurtured and disciplined.
I think I understood from the beginning that my Aunt Mary was a wonderful, committed adult in my village. But it was during a conversation with her after I was grown, with children of my own that I came to understand the depth of her commitment and her determination to brave her own growth.
We were standing at the sink, side by side. Her washing, me rinsing. I had stood in that kitchen, at that sink over the years with cousins, laughing, complaining, splashing. Now it was me, a mother myself, having a grown up conversation with Aunt Mary. I talked about my girls. She talked about her grandchildren, one of whom was struggling with bedwetting. You could feel the emotion in her voice as she worried about the potential stigma and hurt for her grandchild. And then she stopped, turning to look at me. Blinking back tears she said, “I hope I never made you feel bad, like there was something wrong with you.” “I hope I never made you think I was angry with you.”
You see, I had been a bedwetter. All the way through elementary school. Her words instantly took me back. I thought of that chapter of my life and the frustration she must have felt at the extra laundry alone created by my bedwetting. Swimming through that sea of memories enabled me to look her in the eye and say without hesitation, “No. Not ever.” In that moment I knew she was the best kind of grown up for a child’s village. She was a villager that cherished the heart of a child above all else. She was a villager brave enough to be real and to keep growing.
Thank you, Aunt Mary.
An offering to
parents, copied with permission from Linda Dixon. May we
all “remember the day this child was born”, and celebrate their
As a mother, who has had
the experience of receiving a phone call from a woman, asking for
my daughter’s hand in marriage, I feel qualified to speak on the
issue of marriage equality. Is this not the very thing which
strikes terror into the hearts of parents who have tried to raise
their children right? Isn’t it our reward, to be mother of the
bride, as a lovely daughter glides down the aisle toward the man of
a gay marriage survivor, I feel it is my duty to help others
negotiate the harrowing ordeal. Therefore, I have taken the liberty
to write a small handbook on the subject. There is much
more I could say, but here are the ten essential
allow yourself to remember the day this child was born. Recall the
wonder of gazing into the eyes of a tiny, precious new life and
feel the sense of awe at the depth of love you experienced.
Remember your vow to nurture this tiny person, who came
from you but is not a replica of
Immerse yourself in the memory of learning who this child is and
noting how that unique personality was there from the beginning,
just waiting to be discovered. Wrap yourself up in that
blanket of parental protection – the one you used to swaddle your
child’s sense of self and protect her from those who would try to
to yourself and anyone who will listen, that this is still your
primary responsibility as a
4. Listen to
your adult son or daughter. Ask what they love about
their beloved and look to see if they are truly
how they are treated by their partner or fiancé. Ask
yourself if you would approve of this person, had she been born of
the opposite gender? If the answer is
Treat your future daughter/son-in-law as you would like
Remember that all you ever wanted was for this person to be happy
and to feel loved and cherished. Know that your fondest
wish has been fulfilled. Thank
8. If you are
unable to share in your daughter/son’s joy, take responsibility for
the problem. Review your life and try to figure out where
you went wrong. Get help if you cannot resolve this on
yourself. Rejection of your own child is a very serious,
but treatable illness. If you find yourself in this
predicament, make it your goal to heal yourself before the wedding.
Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as it
10. Go to the
wedding and toast the happy couple with love and sincerity.
Welcome your child’s husband/wife into your family and
live happily ever
Thanks Linda, for
giving voice to a parent’s heart and a child’s
I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~ William Penn
For the Children
Let us have a heart
For children everywhere.
A mind to think
On their behalf,
With love and sacrifice.
To create the evidence
Of our love
And their worth.
Paulann C. Canty, December 19, 2012
Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. ~ Charles Dickens