June 19, 2012
Last night I heard crying in Elder Hall where we are having the children sleep. One of the children had lost a tooth and we thought we had best play the fairy. Even if their parents are gone, we did not want them to feel that all the magic had been taken out of the world for them. I had just placed some money under the child’s pillow and taken away the tooth when I heard it. Bless them, they were muffled. I assume so that they would not disturb the others. I walked carefully over to them and asked what was wrong.
“I miss my parents,” the child said. I grimaced and knelt down. I did what I could to console them, mostly by asking them what we did today and what was to be done tomorrow. I asked every distracting question I could think of, and yet at the end of it, they still missed their parents. Of course they did. Who wouldn’t? Kids may have short attentions and memories, but how can we think to take away that ache?
So I did the only other thing I could think of. I said, “Breathe.” And I walked him through the meaning of “Breathe.” When I say “Breathe” I mean not only to breathe in air, but to breathe with your soul. To breathe through with your stomach, with your arms and legs, your muscles and bones. To breathe so your back can stretch with air. To breathe enough to cool your mind with the calm soothing breath of life. And to breathe long and slow.
And so I breathed with him until, magically, he relaxed and fell asleep.
I wonder how many just need someone to sit and breathe with them for a while. Perhaps there is some truth here.