One morning, I spent an hour with 5 families and their sweet, sensitive, excited, creative and wonderful kiddos! We spent an hour reflecting, relating and listening. We spent an hour listening to and sharing stories.
First we read a story, a really amazing story. This story was about “Happyville”. Happyville is a small-town where everybody knows everybody and wherever you go, you see someone you know. Happyville kind of reminded me of Collingwood (my town) and also of the world in general. Like the ride at Disneyland sings (again and again):
“It’s a small world after all”.
The message of this book was all about the power of our words.
The book went a little like this:
-Mr. Peabody is an amazing teacher in the community of Happyville. He organizes baseball and has lots of kids come every Sunday for this. One of these children is named Tommy.
One day, Tommy sees Mr. Peabody at the store. Mr. Peabody picks up a shiny red apple and puts it in his bag.
It looks like Mr. Peabody didn’t pay for it (well “looks like”). With this limited view of the whole story, Tommy “thinks” that Mr. Peabody is a thief. He thinks this because there was a lot of the story that he could not see, that he did not know.
Tommy later learns that Mr. Peabody actually did buy the apple and always pays for it every week when he gets his milk. He was told he can come anytime to grab his apple. But you see, Tommy didn’t know this.
When Tommy saw Mr. Peabody take the apple, he told everyone in town that Mr. Peabody was a thief. Then nobody came to baseball. Mr. Peabody was sad and confused.
(All because of words, because of a “story” that was not true, a story that was missing a big part of what was true).
Later Tommy and Mr. Peabody have a special talk, where the truth is uncovered. Tommy feels really bad and isn’t sure how to “make it right”. The story leaves the reader with a very powerful image:
Mr. Peabody says that he would like Tommy to take this pillow case full of feathers and let the feathers go in the wind. Tommy then asks: “that’s all I have to do to make this better?”
(Thinking, wow - that was easy)
Mr. Peabody explains that the feathers are like words. In order to “undo the damage” of the lie that was told, it would be like Tommy going and picking up every single feather.
You see, it’s not as easy as that.
And I can feel the same feelings around all that we are looking at right now. We can’t pick up every feather all at once, these things take time. And most importantly, they take heart, they take intention, they take care, they take wanting to “pick up all the feathers”. It takes choosing to do things in a different way and it takes having those conversations so the truths can be spoken.
It also takes recognizing that we are doing the best we can. I had everyone reflect after on if there has ever been a time in their life that “they have felt like Tommy” or “have felt like Mr. Peabody”. I think sometimes it’s easier to admit to the times you were wronged (like Mr. Peabody) rather than the times you, yourself, made the mistake, judgment or couldn’t speak your truth - and was just like Tommy who didn’t have the whole story.
So in honour of this story, let’s keep taking the time to hear all sides of the story and have the conversations so the TRUTH (every side of the truth) can be heard, spoken, shared, accepted, and guide us to a brighter, more loving, more compassionate future. One where our hearts and minds continue to stay open and embrace one another as imperfectly perfect, just as we are - doing our best ...one feather at a time.
Sending you a big hug and reminder that gentleness and love goes much further than judgment and shame.