First Grade Forgiveness


Jeffrey positions himself with his nose inches away from his buddy’s. “I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen.”

“Humph!” declares Rowen, lower lip out, chin up, eyes narrowed. Rowen actually says things like “Humph!” and “Rats!” and “Good Grief!” because he identifies with Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh and also Charlie Brown.

“Rowen,” I begin, “Jeffrey didn’t mean to hurt you when he tagged you. He’s trying to do the right thing by saying sorry. Here comes his mom’s car. He has to leave in a moment. Can you do the right thing, too?”

Rowen starts wailing and, to borrow a term from one of his favorite authors, Mo Willems, “goes boneless”.

Jeffrey’s mom approaches and greets us. “Hi guys, how was soccer practice?”

“Good Mom, I won in Knock Out!”

Rowen lets out a scream that echoes in the space between the house and the garage. I bring Jeffrey’s Mom up to speed.

“Rowen,” I attempt once more, “Let’s try to end on a good note. This is your chance to forgive Jeffrey. He is leaving now. Do you think you might feel worse if he leaves before you get a chance to tell him it’s okay?”

Rowen never does well with a looming deadline. He falls completely to pieces. Jeffrey and his Mom offer a wave and then their car pulls away.

I try to coax Rowen into the house but he is not done with his antics so, patience exhausted, I walk in without him. I throw my bag on the chair. I am embarrassed. Why couldn’t he just go through the socially appropriate motions? Why does there always have to be drama?

Eventually he comes in, has a drink, dinner, and a warm bath. He pulls on his dinosaur PJs and we read stories. As I tuck him in, I ask if he’s forgiven his friend. He sighs and says, “Well, ok,” and it’s finished. He’ll see Jeffrey in school the next day and they’ll talk about soccer and all will be well.

Forgiveness among children is rarely rushed yet comes quickly and wholeheartedly. Purification is the first step, a physical release of the sadness, anger and fear, and then, quite simply, hurt is healed. The sun sets upon the day and sleep sweeps out the trouble. The next day is met with Love.

Why can’t the Process be this simple for grown-ups? Why do we fall into the Cycle of second-rate apologies and false Forgiveness, or worse, utter silence? Children remind us that emotional energy needs a release, no exceptions. While it may not always be pretty, it is truly the way to remain in Right Relationship with those around us.

Now Watch While I Make My Self Disappear!


Banishing the Big Self is an easy trick. Let me show you! Simply choose one of the following:

– A supersize bag of potato chips
Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon
– A credit card
– Your damn iPhone

Now eat, watch, spend or use whatever poison you chose until you feel gorged, then guilty, then numb. These feelings may not be awesome or wonderful, but good news: they belong exclusively to the Small Self. That means you did it! You’ve made the Big Self disappear, or you’ve at least sent it packing for the evening.

Is your pesky conscience interfering with your eating/watching/spending/using? Fear not! Obsessively checking and responding to work emails is just as effective. Other seemingly-healthy activities like compulsive calorie counting, obscene amounts of kale, developing a new Self, promoting your “brand” online, updating your cosmetics for an earthy, natural glow will also do the trick.

Now there will be times when it feels convenient to bring the Big Self back. You know, at some point you may feel tired of acting phony or anxiety will get the best of you. Or you might need to get the Small Self out of your brain so that you can sleep. You may want to unlock that brilliant inner Big Self and bring it to the party. Here’s where you might turn to drugs or alcohol. These are classic shortcuts to invite the Big Self back to the forefront after you’ve been so cruel to Him or Her! Okay, so it might not actually be the Big Self but you will feel like it is. You will have deep thoughts and fleeting purpose and you will feel just like YOU.

Listen, the Universe conspires with Big Self. Birth, Death, Love and such. Can’t the Small Self have its day?

The Law of Balance in Life and on the Playground


I have been experiencing just the slightest dizziness. I’m not even sure I could call it that. My perception of the world around me seems off kilter, as opposed to a spinning or tipping feeling. Is this a sign of a life in need of Balance?

Every time I sit on the ground and lay out my stones I am balancing and re-calibrating. To begin the act of laying out the stones, a level of balance must be achieved. It must be quiet, I must be uninterrupted, I cannot attend to the needs of anyone else (my scale usually tips in favor of meeting the needs of others).

Perhaps Giving & Receiving is the law most vividly representing the seesaw of Balance in my life. Looking at and listening to the word “seesaw” I find some juxtaposing concepts between past and present, which also require balancing.

The seesaw is a strange thing. It generally requires the assistance of a grownup for two children to begin. What a delight though, when the motion begins! How satisfying when the two sides are balanced so well that each child hovers in the air at the same level. How funny when one’s bottom is so firmly on the ground, clumsy bounces unable to generate the upward momentum.

Come to think of it, the playground is full of metaphors for life. I’m sure a Law could apply to each feature. What would the merry-go-round be, other than a wheel itself? I see the Balance of physics all over the playground, primarily because children love shaking up Balance, tipping the scale, playing with Cause & Effect.

Sometimes it’s beneficial to throw things out of balance. Revving up or tranquilizing water molecules can disrupt balance into a changed state for cooking, adding moisture to a dry room, creating ice, and so on. Yet Balance flows through nature’s water Cycle giving each molecule its chance to experience each state. I’m sure this applies to humans as well.

I went to Catholic Church only for a few years as a child, but I often hear in my mind “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again”. I don’t even remember what proceeds or follows it during mass, but I believe in the truth of that statement when removed from its context.