Kindness and calm

Dear President Trump,

I hope you’re having a nice Thanksgiving visiting military people in Afghanistan. I really do hope this, both for your sake and for theirs. It was good of you to go and do that. There are other things I could say about you and the military, but for today I won’t pick at you or be the least bit snotty and instead will tell you about a few nice things.

The first is that a few weeks ago I picked up a sweet card at a museum we visited. It’s sitting on a table in my office waiting to be given to one of my favorite people there in case she wants to put it up in her office. She works with veterans and their significant others and I think it’s the perfect card for someone who is a couple’s therapist to display. Even though you wouldn’t likely make a great couple’s therapist (not to be mean, it just doesn’t play to your strengths), I’m going to share what it says with you because it has some pointers that could make your visit with the troops more meaningful and memorable. So you can picture it, I’ll tell you that it’s made of cream-colored paper and has somewhat sloppy blue block letters that say the following:

Love Spell

*Listen                        *Brush Your Teeth                *Be On Time

*Be Nice                      *Eye Contact        *Ask Thoughtful Questions

I do keep wanting to fix “Eye Contact” since it’s the only one missing its verb, but that’s a minor quibble.

I love the spell because it is super simple and most of us could master if we worked at it. I also like that even if we don’t get it together to execute all the pieces all the time, if we hit at least four of them most the time, we are doing pretty well. I bet if you modeled the “Practical Love Spell” for the nation, things would turn around in no time. What do you say?

Next is that this morning after slogging through a bunch of downer WP articles I came upon one by Mary Pflum Peterson entitled “What happened when I showed vintage Mister Rogers to my 21st-century kids.” Peterson had to watch a whole bunch of Mr. Rogers episodes for a project she was doing and decided to hide this from her kids since they’d not been especially kind about other arcane movies and shows she’d previously shared with them. She recounts how her two youngest children were curious what she was doing and wanted to watch with her. Peterson goes on to tell her fortunate readers that her children fell in love with Fred Rogers.

When she asked her daughter why she likes him so much, her daughter gave her a “are you serious?” look and said “He likes kids, Mommy. Kids know when a grown-up likes them.” And her son chimed in with “And he’s not too loud, when we watch him, there’s no noise. You don’t have to worry about anything.” A few weeks later after a really hard day at school, her daughter was tearful and worn out, and when Peterson asked her what might help her feel better, she said she wanted to visit their friend, Mr. Rogers. As Peterson observed, children often appreciate kindness and calm. And so do some grownups.

Finally, before closing, I’ll leave you with the end of this lovely poem by 14th century poet, Hafez that was shared in church last week (from Every City is a Dulcimer):

Birds initially had no desire to fly,
What really happened was this:

God once sat close to them
playing Music.
When He left
They missed him so much

Their great longing sprouted wings,
Needing to search the Sky.

Nothing evolves us like Love.

May we be safe and secure.
May we be willing to let love evolve us.
May we maintain a healthy capacity for kindness and calm.
May we have the courage to be peace.

Tracy Simpson

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