Thursday, July 07, 2005
Reading with Mother...
I remember reading with my mother. We would lie upstairs in my bed while she shared her love of books with us. My sister and I would listen as Laura and Mary Ingalls came to life and even after we could read ourselves, a treasure still lay in my mother's quiet voice. In 1967 when I was 6 years old, I was given a book called "Little Bits of Wisdom". My mother's beautiful penmanship lines the back of the cover with an inscription to me, as fresh as if she'd written it yesterday. We would sit against the headboard, our backs against the pillow as we read the verses inside. She would help me with the words I didn't know and we'd discuss what we thought each phrase meant. The pictures and words are so familiar to me:
"What you would seem to be, be really."
"He that would live in peace and at ease,
Must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees."
"Hide not your talents; for use they were made!
What's a sundial in the shade?"
I didn't know it back then, but I was learning not only to read but to feel and know. I was learning compassion for others, the Golden Rule and love for the written word.
I work in a classroom where we teach children with learning disabilities. One particular group that I work with consists of three little girls, just the age that I was when I received this book. They are beautiful children, but sometimes a 2nd grader's unreined temperament gets the better of her and she isn't as kind as she could be. I brought this book to school and sat out in the hallway with them: three sets of eyes glued to the pages, little hands in mine, bodies leaning in close to see. I was charmed once again as I read the words in my grown-up version, and listened to their thoughtful innocence and pondering. How good to know that after 37 years it is still teaching and that its messages of inspiration and quiet lessons are as pertinent today as they were all those years ago.
"Little drops of water, Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.
Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,
Help to make earth happy Like the Heaven above."