Everybody Crying Together

Very young children express their feelings and observations with such raw honesty and unfiltered emotion, if we truly listen and are willing to hear we can connect our clouded minds to some amazing things.

Compassion means shared suffering, not simply feeling sorry for someone else.

At my daughter’s play date with one of her closest companions last week a bit of a classic two-year-old confusion erupted.  Her friend happily asked her mother to read books to all of us.  Then she picked up one of my child’s favorite books, and my child reached for it and started flipping through the pages.  Her friend tried to take it back, there was resistance, then frustration, then protest, then crying.  Lots of crying and wailing and heart-rending distress ensued.

I watched my daughter’s eyes shoot back and forth to her friend and the two mothers in the room.  She wasn’t about to give up her book, but she wasn’t entirely sure what the problem was, either.  I saw her struggle to understand, and then by choice join the crying.  The somewhat amusing thing was she still didn’t seem to know why her friend was upset, but she was going to cry because her friend was crying. 

The words she said were, “Everybody crying together……….everybody crying together…….”

We mothers knew we had to help change the channel quickly, if for no other reason than we were about to start laughing and we didn’t want to throw fuel on the tiny meltdown cases in our care.  We whisked them up and went to another room for another activity, and all was well in very short order.  (I recall chocolate also was administered.)

When I did some searching on “crying together” it suggested that we cry together fairly easily when we are happy, and not easily but often when grieving a shared loss.  I wonder how often we cry together to express compassion.

Compassion (from Latin: “co-suffering”) is a virtue—one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy (for the suffering of others) are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnectedness and humanism—foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.

Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  Forgotten.  Perhaps we are born knowing, and we spend a lifetime forgetting.

I’m sure someone with a degree in child development or some related psychology field can explain to me why what I saw was just a toddler tantrum; unfortunately I can’t hear you, I’m too busy listening to a child and making a pledge to be less concerned with why those I care about are upset, and more focused on being present with them when they are.

(The beautiful image used in this post is from Children: The World Affairs Blog Network and the entire post can be viewed at http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com/page/81/.)


West Virginia lost a true believer this week.

He was my friend, and even if you did not know him you need to know that he was your friend.  He was your friend because he cared about the future health and well-being of the place we call home, and he was never afraid to stand up and fight for that future.

The founder of Create West Virginia said this:  “Jeff was always among the first to volunteer to speak or help.  He was an early and passionate member of our team.  He had such passion for West Virginia and its creative potential. I will miss his truth-telling, his fearless willingness to tell it like it is, and his sense of humor and caring.”

As for me, I see a special magic in the symmetry of this loss and the two stories on Esse Diem prior to this one.  The wood and wool goat figure in the garden came from Jeff’s business Stray Dog Antiques.  My husband brought it home as a surprise gift for our baby who was due just a few weeks later.  And Joe Strummer looked a reporter straight in the eye and said that when they wrote about him, to be sure to get his title right:  Joe Strummer, Punk Warlord.  “Warlord is all one word.”

Jeffrey Miller, Green World Warlord.

All one word.

Life’s Own Rules

My friend Rick is an avid gardener.  As I drove past his house on the East End of Charleston a few years ago he called me to the yard and ran about with a spade asking, “Do you want this?  What about some of this?  These are great….oh, and these!”

I had just moved into a new house with a rather “Lowe’s Home Improvement Center” feel to the landscape.  I was chomping at the bit to bring heirloom perennials, herbs, ornamental specimen trees and pass-along plants to the space — the spontaneous encounter with Rick was perfect.

Around 5 years in the ground, this little plant blooms for the first time.

So this little guy has hung in there for 5 years, but has never done much more than poke out of the earth in the spring to say hello.  I had no idea it even could flower……and yet here we go.  Delicate, nearly hair-width stalks with tiny yellow buds.  Lovely.

The garden is a reminder of all things life.  You never know to what potential the roots reach, what genetic material is invisible to your eyes, and what the ideal conditions and time will produce.